Vietnamese-American Culture Featured in Fields Corner Mural

Published in the Bay State Banner, September 28, 2017

Photo by Karen Morales

The Fields Corner neighborhood of Dorchester has one of the largest concentrations of Vietnamese-Americans in Boston. A diverse group of local artists and neighbors set out recently to increase the visibility of this vibrant community with a mural outside of Pho Hoa Restaurant.

Ngoc-Tran Vu is a Dorchester native, artist and community organizer heading the mural project. More public and inclusive art in Dorchester has always been something for which Vu strived, but a concrete plan arose when she met Tam Le, another artist and local entrepreneur.

The Le family owns Pho Hoa and Le himself is the owner of Reign Drink Lab, a homemade boba tea, smoothies, and coffee shop behind the restaurant on Dorchester Avenue. “‘My family’s building,’ he said, ‘think of it as your canvas,’” said Vu about her conversation with Le.

“I thought about how I wanted to collaborate with the community and how I could bring in young people, as well as the older residents,” she said, adding, “As a first generation Vietnamese-American, I saw myself in an unique position to connect the past, present and future, and work with others.”

Read the rest here.

2016 – Not Your Grandmother’s Knit Sweater

Published on ymemerson.com, March 13, 2016

Photo by Benjamin Frohman

Meet Pilar Duralde. Part time Writing for Film and TV major, part time sweater knitter. But she’s no grandma. This first semester senior makes delightfully quirky “boob sweaters” with a bad-ass message.

YM: Why did you start making these types of sweaters?

P: I made myself one last year around this time. I guess I had a dull black sweater lying around and I was thinking of what to do with it and I thought it would be a fun design. I was kind of scared to wear it at first, but it became second nature. Then everyone started asking about them, so when it was time for me to start funding my BFA I started to make and sell more.

YM: Is there a message that you want to give off with your sweaters?
P: I suppose it’s really about desexualizing breasts and creating a safer environment for them to be casually present. The stigma around breastfeeding has always bothered me, and I wholly support Free the Nipple. I don’t think I’m bold enough to go topless when it is warm out, and frankly, I’m not sure that it’s safe enough for a woman in America to truly free the nipple. Ultimately, the sweater is a cozier rebellion that more people can actively participate in (even guys!)

YM: What’s your experience in making clothes/knitting/art?
P: I learned to knit and crochet in the fifth grade but it really took until high school for me to pick them up again. I’ve made blankets, socks, sweaters, all sorts of things! I can do some sewing, I made my prom dresses in high school. I used to play bass, I write, I take pictures. Any project that can push me creatively or my skill set is worth trying. There is a constant need I have to be consuming or creating art, any time I can combine the two is perfect.

YM: How many sweaters have you made? How many have you sold?
P: I’ve lost track, I’d say around 40 or so made and sold. Alex Shadrow of UNItiques (a free online marketplace for college girls to buy and sell fashion) recently reached out to me to sell on that platform under the store PilarsCreations. I just got another load of sweaters, so I’m hoping to make more and sell them there soon!

YM: What sort of reactions do you get?
P: Mostly, overwhelmingly positive. I’ve run into a creepy guy or two who may have missed the point, but I’ve had more female strangers compliment them. My parents thought they were a hoot. College-aged students from all over seem to like them and want one of their own. I mean, I think not only is it a fun design, but since every sweater and color combination is unique it draws more of a crowd.

2016 – An Interactive Art Installation That Will Let You Confess All Your Secrets is Coming to Boston

Published on bostoncommon-magazine.com, March 29, 2016

Starting on April 11, a public video booth will invite people to complete the statement, “The Truth is…” at The Verb Hotel and the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

Filters and backlit iPhone cases aside (thanks for that one, Kim Kardashian), a public art installation slated to appear on the Rose Kennedy Greenway (April 13-15) and at The Verb Hotel (April 11-12) might give Bostonians a chance to speak a more authentic truth with their social media. In Search of Truth (The Truth Booth) is an inflatable video booth that invites members of the public to complete the statement, “The truth is…” in any way they desire.

The global, multi-year project is part of a collaboration between artists Hank Willis Thomas, Ryan Alexiev, Jim Ricks, and Will Sylvester of the Cause Collective in partnership with development firm Samuels & Associates, arts organization GT Public, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. In addition, Thomas will speak at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston on April 12. Since 2011, The Truth Booth has been collecting and archiving 2-minute-long video statements from people all over the world, from Ireland to Afghanistan.

Read the rest here.