Artist: Tony Nguyen
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Merlino Gallery
CSULB undergraduate, Tony Nguyen, is working toward his BFA degree in the school of Art’s Metal program. However, his concentration had first started off in the Painting/Drawing program and then jumped to the Illustration program all before landing in what it is now. Tony was born and raised in the city of Gardena, but his parents are originally from Vietnam. His handyman of a father serves as his main influence for wanting to become a metalsmith. It was him helping his father out with different projects that lead to Tony loving to work with his hands and tinker with objects.
Tony’s exhibition, Neoteny, showcased an arrangement of different pieces made mostly of metals. There was a childlike theme carried through almost every piece. To be exact, there were fifteen pieces and each one was numbered off. His theme was even incorporated in the numbering off in which he laid a paper towards the entrance with the names of each piece and titled it “Scavenger Hunt.” The first piece was one called “Vending Machine Peddling Happiness” and the last was “A simple Mailbox.”
The purpose of Neoteny was to “create a sense of nostalgia” through pieces that represent experiences, hobbies, and influences from his childhood. For instance, his vending machine in a sense served as mini time machine to take the viewers back to a time where we didn’t take a single coin for granted, for usually it was something earned and cherished. That coin was our way to happiness because it lead to something as simple but as valuable as a toy from a vending machine. Although, there was one piece that stood out from the rest, for it represented something slightly different. This piece was his ” A Crown Fit for a Monkey” metalwork which simply symbolizes his final year and all that he has accomplished at CSULB.
The whole exhibition was overall refreshing, for each piece really did have a childlike spirit to it. What made it even more enjoyable was the fact that Tony took the time to walk around his exhibition and thoroughly explain any piece viewers wanted to know more about. He himself exudes that same childlike spirit through the way he carries himself. After talking to him, it becomes obvious that he truly put himself in his work.