Thu Nguyen

Artist. Painting figurative realism.

My portraits use elements of traditional Chinese art combined with Eastern European Iconography which I interpreted through a contemporary lens, to explore new ideas in portraiture.

I was born in Saigon, Vietnam on May 27, 1958. Being very shy, I spent much of my childhood hiding away upstairs painting, instead of playing with other children. My first brush with success was a Best of Show prize at the 1974 children’s exhibition in Saigon sponsored by UNICEF. In 1975 Saigon fell and in the resulting confusion I was separated from my parents. I ended up in a refugee camp near Hong Kong for a year prior to immigrating to the United States as an orphan. After one very snowy and cold winter in Pennsylvania, I went to Los Angeles to stay with some relatives. During my high school years, I earned extra money doing fashion modeling work in the garment district and upon graduation started on the pre-med program at California State University, Long Beach, CA. During this time, I fell in love with art again and changed my major to art. While in college I had an acting stint in Hollywood on the side (I got a part in Oliver Stone’s ‘Heaven and Earth’ and followed with a lead role in Elizabeth Hong Yang’s ‘Touch Within’ in China). After getting my art degree, I have since settled down to pursue my art career in Los Angeles, later Seattle and finally Hawaii with the big excitement being adopting my first daughter from China and my second daughter from Vietnam.

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