Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ann Phong, Mixed Media Artist, Tells Her Story


Images attract me. Every since I was young my mother allowed me to walk home from elementary school. Following the path to my house, I wandered through my whole neighborhood. House after house, I peered into people's windows to see what they cooked, what they were doing and how they talked to each other. When it came time to study, I drew. Images of what I had seen throughout the day materialized and danced in my mind in front of my textbooks. I captured the people and the scenery and illustrated them like storybooks.

From Within, Mixed Media on Wood, 25 x 33

My drawings surprised my parents and my peers. I received praise for my illustrations, and I wanted to be an artist every since then.

Today and Yesterday, Acrylic, 96 x 60

In 1981, I had a chance to escape the Vietnamese Communist Party. After finding refuge in Malaysia and Philippines for a year, I settled down in Southern California. Living through many countries has given me more chances to observe the uniqueness in each culture. These experiences continue enrich my art.

Angel, Mixed Media, 24 x 48 x 3

While studying for my Bachelor's degree in Fine Art, all the internationally acclaimed artists in the art history classes thrilled me. However, I didn't want to stay under those big guys' shadow so I looked for a way out to be myself. This passion sparked my immigrant theme.

Bubbles in the Ocean, Mixed Media, 30 x 40

I love to paint and sculpt. After graduating and receiving my MFA from Cal State University Fullerton, I no longer had a facility to create 3D artwork so I transitioned to integrating 2D and 3D components into my paintings in my small, home studio. I found my path in mixed media painting and have loved it every since.   

After Party, Mixed Media
When I sit in front of a blank canvas, my emotions flow in intuitively. Images of my past from Vietnam to America, cascade through my consciousness while my hands paint. Layers of old images are buried under the new memories, like new pages being added to an endless book.


Splash, Mixed Media, 8 x 8

About a decade ago, my motivation to create changed. Seeing endless news segments, articles, and pictures of the trash we as humans leave behind filled me with sadness but also added a desire to help. It seemed like the more convenient we make our lives, the bigger the cost it has had on our environment.

Floating, Mixed Media, 7 x 24
Old appliances, used toys, and plastic grocery bags are cut into a multitude shapes and sizes to form my work. The original shapes of those objects are no longer recognizable. What was once waste is now art and a representation of what could happen if we do not learn to consider our planet first.

Human Traces on Earth #3, Mixed Media, 20 x 20
The juxtaposition of straight lines and shapes in composition versus the organic curved ones represent different aspects of nature and manmade forms.

Run #2, Acrylic on Canvas, 60 x 48
During the process of creating, I look at my surroundings and use old household products and other refuse as part of my work. When the visual part flows with my feelings, it’s time for the actions to stop.

Every time I sit in front of the canvas it is a new challenge. I don't lay down a sketch and paint. I have a general idea of what I want then start adding objects and applying pigments. Occasionally the subject, form, and content flow well together. However, most of the time they do not. Colors, lines, shades, and shapes all fight on the surface of my paintings. Sometimes it is so jarring that I must step back and wait for everything to calm down. But when everything lines up and the piece is complete, I get a sense of completeness and accomplishment that money could never buy.

Fragile Nature, Mixed Media, 20 x 40
This is Week 1 of Artists Tell Their Stories in 2018. Thank you for reading and sharing Ann’s story today. To connect with Ann and see more of her work, please visit the following links:

LinkedIn