CHICAGO.- Howard Henry Chen unearths the connections between cultural norms and societal changes in his new work presented at the August UBS 12 x 12 New Artists/New Work exhibition. Through photographs, installations and sculptures, Chen delves into the changing nature of cultural identity as related to immigrants in an increasingly global society. The exhibit opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, at First Fridays on August 1 and runs through August 31, 2008.
In the large-scale photo-triptych Journey to the West #8, Chen appears dressed like a monk and wearing hunters orange. Inspired by the 2004 shooting deaths of hunters in rural Wisconsin by a Hmong immigrant from Laos and the Chinese epic novel The Monkey King, Chen examines land use policies in the United States and Vietnam, and the divergent cultural norms of hunting. Turf War is an installation of objects from traditional Buddhist practice, which includes 30 bronze singing bowls; traditional French culinary practice; and horticultural practices that result in the hybridization and propagation of orchids. Focusing on issues of migration, assimilation, authenticity, and cultural contamination, Chens installation addresses foreign influences on Vietnamese culture through the process of globalization, and further defines the conflicting elements of western culture with traditional customs. Chens perspective as an immigrant from Vietnam, combined with his peripheral view of Vietnam from visits in recent years, provides an aspect of personal journey.
In 2006 Chen received his MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago. Prior, he studied journalism and political science at Boston University where he received his BS. Chen will lead a tour of his work on Tuesday, August 12, 2008.
The MCA begins August with a Rising Star themed First Fridays on August 1. Guests can decorate commemorative Lollapalooza t-shirts with embellishments at the creation station, and enter a raffle to win a pair of VIP Lolla Lounge tickets. DJ Mister Joshua will spin while guests enjoy themed New Sensation Cosmos and Breakthrough cocktails.