Howard Henry Chen

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Interview with photographer Howard Henry Chen by Diane Nguyen


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Artist Bio

Howard Henry Chen is an artist that is interested in the ideas of migration, assimilation, hybridization, the global system of change, and the way wealth affect the developing world. He was born in Vietnam in 1972 and left in 1975 with his parents to United States. He grew up in the east coast, Pennsylvania. He attended Boston University where he studied journalism and political science. After graduating, he worked as a journalist for a couple of years at newspapers. Howard mainly covered the issues from the television industry the demographics of the American South. He later went out to study photography at Duke University when he met a couple of photographers during the time he was a journalism who then encourage him to pursue photography and art. He met a professor that taught him photography functions socially and politically.

Howard Chen does not only work with photography. He works with all different kinds of mix media. He believes that his art practice changes, and the main focuses is not particularly the mix media but the message and the issue the art piece represents. He has done photography as well as installations.

He has done a couple of exhibitions. His work has been found in the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, Illinois, Center for Documentary Studies in Durham, North Carolina, and Gallery Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Also he had received the first Fulbright Fellowship for Photography in 1999 and the Silver Eye 2006 Fellowship Award. In 2000 he spent the next six years going back and forth from Vietnam to America working on his artwork to document the changes in Vietnam’s society. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.

Artist Statement:

As a photographer working in Vietnam (2000), I witnessed firsthand the long-term effects of the war, the changing social and political sensibilities, and the reach of economic and cultural globalism. However, I wanted to make photographs that could balance the frenetic, news-driven images. As a Vietnamerican, I wanted to create a new set of pictures that could site somewhere in between the images of Vietnam to which the world has grown accustomed, and use a new visual grammar with which we can talk about Vietnam. I was constantly looking for images that bolstered the self-satisfied loneliness I felt as a returning refugee.

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