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Artist of the Month
September 2010

Artist of the Month

Binh Pho

Binh has long been recognized as a master wood turner. He broke new ground with his innovative, intricately carved surfaces, which were augmented by his narrative colorful paintings. Binh has taken on the challenge of expressing his aesthetic in glass. It took him three years of research and development to resolve the complexities of his revolutionary casting process. The surface detail he has achieved successfully evokes the intellectual and emotional response as you peruse his story in glass.

Binh Pho

Artist of the Month

Artist Statement:

"On April 30, 1975, the war was ended in Vietnam. It made a dramatic turn in my life. I was in my sophomore year of college majoring in architecture but the 'Red Peace' ended that. At that time there were only two schools. One taught Communism, the other was a Re-education Camp.

I refused to accept the reality of Communism. Six months later I attempted my first escape to find freedom, but instead I ended up in a Re-education Camp. I spent one year in there to supposedly get my brain washed, then they let me back in the city. After that I tried three more times. Finally my day had come. On September 29, 1978, I and my 38 companions reached the Freedom Soil after seven days on a small boat floating across the Gulf of Siam to Malaysia. Due to vast numbers of refugees at that time, I spent eight months in a refugee camp located on a deserted island outside of Kuala Lumpur.

The date was May 7, 1979, when I was reunited with my family in St. Louis, Missouri, after four of the longest years of my life. Now I reside in Maple Park, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago, where I designed and built a 1,500-square-foot studio next to the house.

From a heavy lot of timber to a light, thin vessel, negative spaces interlock with solid surface. The color, grain and natural look of the wood all reflect the principle of Yin and Yang. My work comes from memories, culture, Zen mind and my own thoughts. Negative spaces inspire me, as they represent the unseen weight of the unknown, which I use to take the viewers into my work.

The make-up artist does not only know the script of a play, but also feels the characters that the actor and actresses are portraying. The make-up artist's goal is to express that feeling to the audience.

What do I do? I put a soul into every piece I create. I don't make objects; I create characters. If the viewers can pick up on that soul, I've accomplished it. Creating figurative and abstract imagery on delicately pierced wood vessels opens the doors for me to share my life and interests. There was a period of time that I looked through the window and asked myself the question, 'What is it like on the other side of that window?' I then just let my imagination go." -Binh Pho-    

About Binh Pho

Binh Pho has a truly remarkable life's journey, a heartwarming and miraculous struggle for freedom, and an amazing American success story, as a result of his unique combination of intellect, creativity, energy, and perseverance.


Acknowledgment of Gallery:
We are grateful to Thomas R. Riley Galleries (Cleveland) for providing the materials for the Artist of the Month.

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The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to further the development and appreciation of art made from glass.

The Alliance informs collectors, critics and curators by encouraging and supporting museum exhibitions, university glass departments and specialized teaching programs, regional collector groups, visits to private collections, and public seminars.