Center for Craft 25th anniversary logo in red

Grant Recipient

Dark space with trees, wooden ax, and a screen with the words, “Somewhere the driftwood will land”

Hien Nguyen

Windgate-Lamar Fellowship


History and folklore are our roots, which connect humanity. Like us, generations of trees communicate through the root systems. These connections drive my inspiration and research. I seek to evoke a kind of empathy through works that reflect the experiences of the immigrants in America, especially the first generation of Vietnamese. My narrative as a queer displaced person and an outsider of both nations is deeply engrained in my work.

Immigrating to America 5 years ago at the age of 17 challenged my understanding of my own racial identity, and I began to question my sense of belonging and even my judgment. I witnessed cultural values being forgotten and lost in transition. I recognized intangible aspects of my heritage forgotten, historical artifacts devalued, and sacred sites neglected. In returning to the moral lessons in Vietnamese folktales, I sought a kind of grounding in both my life and my work. Preserving and nurturing those concepts is fundamental to my practice.

Through investigating and learning contemporary and traditional craft methods, I grew more passionate about woodworking and foundry metalworking. By utilizing the traditional techniques and methods in working with bronze and bamboo, I seek to honor my ancestors' heritage. The incorporation of ancient symbols and metaphors of animal images allows me to introduce new concepts and provides layers for storytelling.

Bio of the Artist

Organization Background


Henrico, VA


Virginia Commonwealth University




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