In August of 1997 I spent three weeks in Vietnam with my husband Richard my daughter Lauren and her husand David. We went from North to South staying in Vietnamese guest houses in Hanoi, Mai Chai, Hue, Ho Chin Minh City and the Mekong Delta near Can Thao. We had wonderful food, including hot baguettes and bananas from street vendors. The people were beautiful in body and in spirit; in the entire time I never heard a quarrelsome tone or a crying child. We alternated between days in the city and exploring outlying areas with a driver and guide. During our travels we took thirty-three rolls of film often documenting people at their never-ending labors.
I wanted to capture the essense of the country and its people; to pay homage to their spirit of survival. I began to keep a journal incorporating bits and pieces of ephemera I gathered along the way. I included flags, diagrams, coins, cigarette papers, pins, paper prayers and rubbings. A set of rubber-stamp letters taped together became a recurring motif throughout he journal. There was even a strip of snakeskin I peeled from a boa constrictor in a roadside cafe. The journal and other oddities fit into a 9″ x 12″ envelope and a pencil case held stamp pad and assortment of markers, pens and brushes. It ws a joy not to deal with crashes or troubleshooting while I made my art.
When we returned home I selected the photographs I felt were most expressive. I scanned the double pages of my journal and, using PhotoShop and Painter, combined them with the photographs. The images have been printed 22″ x 30″ on handmade papers from Vietman, Thailand, Nepal and India. My need to witness; to interpret and share what I experience, will provide the impetus for an ongoing pilgrimage.
Thanks to Pete Lepovsky, Diane J. McMillen and Abigail Ross, a portfolio of the Vietnam Journal prints is in the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.