VinUni is no art school. If you ask 10 students around the campus, none of them would say they were here for the cultural and art activities. But increasingly, we are seeing a gradual flourishing of the artscape at our university, from the beautiful mural behind E-lab with a woman whose head is literally a lotus to the beautiful art pieces exclusively designed for VinUni’s first ever large-scale musical show - Obelus of L’Onerois. This movement towards artistic beauty can partly be attributed to one artist-in-the-making, Andy Le.
HOW HE SEES ARTS
Currently a sophomore at College of Business and Management, Le Vu Quang Huy often went by the name Andy Le, which was named after an old friend he met in his English class when he was 7. “I like to keep random, little moments in that small library inside my head. They can be names, memories, or things.” I was a little taken aback for a bit because I thought that the name would have something to do with arts, but I guess his connection with arts began somewhere else as he started talking about his family.
According to Andy, he is used to having arts running in his blood since everyone in his family, including his uncle, mother, and sister are all gifted at painting. The difference is while they see arts as no more than just a phase, a temporal pursuit, Andy regards it as an ongoing narrative, with no specific time frame or deadline.
Think of it as writing a diary. You write it ever since you were small till you grow up, during which you need to observe your changing process, every line and stroke, to see how much you have progressed.
Although his family members do not go into professional arts, Andy found his inspiration in famous artists like Vincent Van Gogh or Frida Kahlo. If you happen to know both Vincent and Andy, you probably find striking resemblance between their lives with the former being global renowned not only for his unique, Post-impressionist style but also his tragic life as someone with bipolar disorder, the latter had found himself struggling mentally before. But it was this uneven past that made Andy realize his ultimate goal in doing arts: To express his true self, who he really is, not how well he can draw or how much passion he has.
ANDY THE ARTIST?
Despite seeing arts as a life-long commitment, Andy did not see himself as an artist. According to him, being chosen by the arts is a blessing but also a kind of karma/ responsibility. Thus, even though he has yet to receive any professional training, Andy wants to do arts to change people’s perception towards artistry, often ridiculed as “making color.”
What is “make color” by the way? Most people think it is to show off and make people feel uncomfortable. That’s what I was trying to redefine. To me, making color is setting yourself free and being unobliged to hide anything from anyone. An artist makes lives more colorful when they are in their original selves, unhindered by any external pressures.
IS VINUNI ARTISTIC ENOUGH?
It was probably that special interest in discovering his nature of self that compelled Andy to choose VinUni and not any other arts school.
Arts is timeless. You can do it anytime, in your 10s, 20s, or even 50s. Therefore, I felt there was no need to rush myself into an art-related environment right away.
Looking back on the time when he had to make a decision of where to study, Andy admitted that he was far from stable and clear, in terms of both his academic and personal orientations. “If I were to get trained first before getting to know myself, I risk losing my signature style and my artistic purpose - to tell my personal story.” So he decided to go to VinUni to learn about himself first before embarking on further technical training. Fortunately, the university managed to provide Andy with his space to freely navigate and create new things. While there is a lot of pressure to outdraw your peers in an art school where everyone is good at arts, there is no such pressure here. Andy also had the opportunity to connect with and learn from other arts appreciators, such as Ms. Lien Trinh, people at Vincom Center for Contemporary Art and Vietnamese Arts Association, who inspired and solidified his love for arts. It was definitely a blessing in disguise.
The beautiful mural titled “Beginning” was another opportunity he got at VinUni. Invited by a friend of his to draw on the wall of E-Lab as a decoration to VinUni’s new facility, Andy decided on the concept of number one - one flower. As someone who loves the use of the language of flowers, he chose lotus, which symbolizes the beginning of his journey at E-Lab. Everything else, except for the lotus, flawless as they might seem, was meant to be rough and imperfect, thanks to Andy’s scumbling/ dry brush technique. The meaning behind the mural was profound: No beginning, no matter how favorable the environment is, turns out to be easy, which reminds me of his bumpy journey of doing arts.
Thankfully, Andy is finding himself surrounded with artistic opportunities. As the teaching assistant of Arts Appreciation class, which changes the curriculum every semester to diversify students’ experience, Andy enjoys getting immersed in different forms of arts while helping his peers to appreciate arts in a more objective and holistic manner. Even though many of the students are still apprehensive when it comes to Arts, he believed that VinUni is on the right track to enhance its own artscape.
The school is doing a kind of art therapy, in which students go to arts class not because they are forced to but as a getaway from all the anxiety and hustle from schooling and student life. And I want to see more of that in the future.
Talking about the future, Andy was finally clear of what he wants to do. In the short term, he is focusing on creating another musical show while helping Ms. Lien Trinh with her research and other art-related works . Looking further, he hopes to continue his studies in Marketing with additional training in Applied Psychology to finally achieve his dream of becoming an art therapist.
The journey is often hard and time-constrained, so you need to have sincerity in everything you do. Only when you do something wholeheartedly can you create meaning and real changes!
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