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Seen and Not Seen
Artwork Title: Interconfined
Artist: Dinh Q. Lê
1994, chromogenic prints and linen tape, 2018/2.89
Dinh Q. Lê (born 1968; Vietnamese name: Lê Quang Đỉnh) is a Vietnamese American multimedia artist, best known for his photography work and photo-weaving technique. Many of his works consider the Vietnam War as well as methods of memory and how it connects to the present. Lê learned how to weave mats from his aunt and uses this process to create large-scale works in which warp and weft (the two basic components used in weaving to turn thread or yarn into fabric), narrow and widen, coalesce and disperse. This work, Interconfined, weaves an image of himself, in the center, with an image of Jesus on the right, and of the Buddha on the left. These figures represent the struggle of finding one’s identity as an Asian immigrant (represented by the Buddha) in a Western, Eurocentric world (represented by Jesus). 
Commentary contributed by:
Frances Kai-Hwa Wang
Journalist, activist, artist
U-M Lecturer of Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies
Knight Arts Challenge Detroit Artist
@fkwang on social media
Reflecting on Interconfined:

"Standing between two major cultural and philosophical traditions, we overlap even as we stand apart. Many of us come from both these traditions, and yet we are both here and not here, seen and not seen. We stand strong because we are woven out of the stories, traditions, food, and cultural handicrafts of our immigrant and refugee elders as we forge new identities and create lives in this new land.

The recent surge of COVID19-inspired violence targeting Asian American elders across the country has artists and activists responding with art and creative community-based solutions, interracial solidarity, and allyship. Asian American aunties sew masks for Native American communities, Black and Latino volunteers walk with Asian American elders and women, and a diverse coalition of activists and restaurants fill refrigerators and donate free meals.

Together with our elders, we step forward and weave together a beloved community where everyone is here, seen, fed, housed."
Reflection Prompts:
  • Lê physically weaves these large-scale photographs. How does this method convey the stories of immigration and immigrants?
  • Dinh Q. Lê used two artworks he saw in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, to represent the contested identity of his own. Can you find two works from UMMA’s collection that show who you are?
  • Hate incidents targeting Asian American and Pacific Islanders have risen due to the association of coronavirus with Asian people. For example, the Stop AAPI Hate Center reported that between March 2020 and February 2021, it received 3,795 reports of anti-Asian, coronavirus-related hate incidents, which include verbal harassment, shunning, and physical attacks. Please check out AAPI Task Force to see what you can do to help stop Asian hate.
Hear from the Commentator Contextualizing Violence Against Asians and Asian Americans Within the History of US Relational Racism
This event will focus on the recent anti-Asian and anti-Asian American violence sweeping the nation, and contextualize this violence within broader relational racial dynamics in U.S. history. Frances Kai-Hwa Wang will be one of the speakers.
Image: @cwmonty via Unsplash
March 26
10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.
Image from
#StopAAPIHate: The Rise Of Violence Against Asian Americans Prompts Community Action
Melissa Borja, assistant professor of American Culture at the University of Michigan, was recently featured on National Public Radio to talk about the hate crimes targeting AAPI populations.
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