"AROMA," by Christian Dinh [Ogden's Museum of Southern Art's FOCUS series]

Christian Dinh “Nails” a Way to Combat Stigma in New Exhibit at Ogden Museum

17:00 June 25, 2021
By: Gigi Halpern

As part of Ogden's Museum of Southern Art's FOCUS series, which highlights rising local artists, ceramic artist Christian Dinh's work Nail Salon is receiving a special spotlight. Dinh, a first generation Asian American currently pursuing a M.F.A at Tulane, is presenting Nail Salon with the intention of highlighting racism, stereotypes, and underrepresentation in the Asian American community and to honor Vietnamese American identity.

Nail Salon is currently on display at the museum, which is located on 925 Camp St., will stay there through January 16, 2022. Ogden Museum will feature 11 works from Nail Salon, which focuses on the Vietnamese culture that grew in the United States following the Vietnam War and the community formed by refugees and immigrants. Through his work, Dinh highlights the experiences, items, places, and values of the Vietnamese- American culture and the success of the Vietnamese nail salon industry.

"Tết," by Christian Dinh [Ogden's Museum of Southern Art's FOCUS series]

Several of these works are decorated, porcelain hands used in nail salons, which often carry the stigma of low-class, minority work. Because many employees in the nail industry are often immigrants who speak very little to no English, these porcelain hands act as "translators" between the employee and customer for the communication of services. Dinh's sculptures also depict the Vietnamese American cultural importance given to Catholicism, the Vietnamese New Year, and the family household. He specifically decorates the sculptures to represent their strong traditions, family values, and hard work. Dinh's hands emphasize the very cultural ideals that often bring the Vietnamese culture together in a country where they are the minority.

Despite the unfavorable stereotype of nail salons, Dinh believes "the Vietnamese nail salon to be one of the great success stories of the Vietnamese American community." Bradley Sumrall, Ogden's curator describes Dinh's work as a combination of "high art and low art, tradition and kitsch."

For more information, visit ogdenmuseum.org.

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