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Khanh Le

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Khanh Le
About the author

I was born to a family of rice farmers in the city of My Tho, Vietnam. Much of my adolescence years were spent in the province of Long Dinh where my grandmother raised me with my sister. My nostalgic childhood ended abruptly when my family and I were able to immigrate to Saint Louis. Even though I identify myself as a Vietnamese-born American, I still do not know what it means. There is a discord within my own origin due to the fact that I was born too late. By the time I have arrived, Vietnam has already claimed its independence. Being born too late effectively removed me from that point in history. Growing up in the United States, I learned to adapt my identity living between two cultures. Identity is the central theme of my works, and I examine it through the bits and pieces of my personal memory and the collective history from the two cultures. What would it be like to live a life without the unresolved tensions between two cultures? Like an earthquake, the Vietnam War shook my core identity with its presence as though never letting me forget that it happened. My rootedness is shaken with doubt and discomfort because it is transforming into a kind of rootless-ness as I slowly acclimate to American culture. Identity is the central theme of my works, and I examine it through the bits and pieces of my personal memory and the collective history from the two cultures. Contradictions and fragmentations are key issues in examining the notion of identity within the structure of my works. I collect images from family photo albums, digital photographs, history books, and fashion and home d├ęcor magazines. Through the process of collage, I layer together fragmented photo images to create a new historical narrative that is reflective of the tension within my own identity.