Li Wei
Writing by Josef Lee on 12 May 2008 4:37 AM
Li Wei

Li Wei (李 日韦) was born in 1970 in Hubei, China. Based in Beijing, the Chinese artist’s work is a mixture of performance art and photography that creates illusions of a sometimes dangerous reality.

Li Wei started off his performing series with ‘Mirroring’ and later on took off attention with his ‘Falls’ series which shows the artist with his head and chest embedded into the ground. Li Wei states that these images are not computer montages and works with the help of props such as mirror, metal wires, scaffolding and acrobatics.

“My work and artistic experience are characterised by a unique specificity and particularity. My artistic language is universal and deals with themes about contemporary politics and society using symbols understood by everyone in every part of the world. I am fascinated by the unstable and dangerous sides of art and I hope my works reflect these aspects.” says the 37-year-old artist.

Besides creating photo-art, Li Wei also do installations. Check out some videos of his works to see how he did his art. Read more in this report by the Daily Mail.

photography Jing Quek

May 29, 2008

Jing Quek

Jing Quek, a Singaporean photographer who graduated with a BA in Fine Arts (Photography) from the SVA, School of Visual Arts, New York, takes truly amazing group photos. Every single person in his photos have a specific purpose and all his shots are incredibly composed and choreographed.

With shiny-eyed optimism and close interaction with everyday people, Jing combines his eye for subtle gestures and expressions with a tropical color palette and the classical formality of the tableau, instilling the colourful character of his subjects in his images. Utilizing a healthy dose of kitsch and humor to disarm viewers’ expectations, Jing explores the social instinct of people to form communities and identities, exploring cultural quirks and cultural stereotypes along the way. Jing’s appreciation of cultural references and authentic environments, coupled with strong conceptual direction, help to create contemporary mythologies, fictions and urban social narratives.

Category: Photography > Singapore

Interview: Calef Brown

May 14, 2008

Interview: Calef Brown

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by Nate Williams

Calef Brown has been working as an illustrator since 1992. His clients include Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and numerous other newspapers and magazines. Calef’s work has been used for advertising, book and CD covers, murals, and packaging. He has also written and illustrated four critically acclaimed children’s books beginning with Polkabats and Octopus Slacks in 1998. This was followed by Dutch Sneakers and Fleakeepers, Tippintown: A Guided Tour, and most recently Flamingos on the Roof–a 64 page collection of poems and paintings. Calef lives and works in Pasadena and Los Angeles, California, and is currently an instructor at Art Center College of Design.

Tell us about your first book? How did it come about? What was your inspiration and how did you go about getting it published?


Cover– Polkabats and Octopus Slacks

I decided to try to create a children’s book in 1994.

Although I loved freelance work and being busy, I was feeling a little burnt out from the pace and the deadlines after doing a lot of jobs, mostly editorial assignments, full time for 3 years. I wanted to illustrate something of my own that would have a longer shelf life than the magazine pieces that I was doing, so I decided to slow down, get away from everything and see what I could come up with.


Debt Burden for Bloomberg Magazine


How Now Cover for Martha Stewart Kids

In the winter of 1995 I took a two-month trip to India with some sketchbooks and art supplies. I spent about a year there traveling around the country when I was twenty-one, which was a lot of fun, very inspiring, and influenced my work a lot, especially my sense of color. I decided to go back to some of my favorite places in the south, including Madras, Pondicherry, Madurai, and Mahabalipuram, and just meander around, see some sights, relax, write and draw. At first I tried coming up with more traditional stories written in prose, but I found myself more attracted to short pieces in the spirit of the nonsense verse I loved as kid–Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Ogden Nash, Peter Newell and others.

Being far away from my usual life and routines, by myself with no responsibilities made it a lot easier to concentrate on the project, and I had a good time working on it.

I returned home with a rough book dummy featuring twenty-five poems and accompanying black and white drawings.


Dummy sketch for Bob from Flamingos on the Roof

Having no idea how to go about getting it published, I made fifteen copies of the dummy, added some samples of my color commissioned work and mailed it out to publishers. I sent some to specific editors if I could find names, and some I just addressed to the children’s dept.

I later found out that this is pretty much the wrong way to go about it, but after a dozen rejections (including some dummies returned unopened) I got an offer from Houghton Mifflin, and they published Polkabats and Octopus Slacks in 1998. I’ve done three other books with them since, and am working on a fifth one now.

You have written and illustrated several books. Is there a common theme or approach throughout your books.. or do you try something new with each one?

All of my books so far are collections of illustrated poems in a variety of lengths and meters, with the exception of Tippintown, which is one long poem with a common rhyme scheme for every two page spread.


Cover– Tippintown

My approach so far has been pretty consistent­– to keep creating and building on the visual world where the stories take place.I try to bring humor, a vivid sense of character and imagination, and in terms of the writing, a well resolved idea and structure for each poem. The poems are written with the intention of being read aloud. I want them to be musical – some rhythmic, percussive and lively, others quiet and atmospheric. I’ve written some manuscripts in prose, and continue working on new approaches, but am not ready to try to get them published yet. The poetry seems to come more naturally to me.

Who is your audience? Are you surprised?

My audience seems to be a diverse group. I’ve gotten emails from parents who say that their kids as young as age two enjoy the illustrations and having the poems read to them, and many teachers have used the books to teach poetry to children from age five up to ages eleven and twelve. Lots of illustrators and designers seem to like the books, which is flattering, and then there are folks my parent’s age that tell me they love sharing the books with their grandchildren.

I guess I’m surprised and pleased with the response to the books from people of all ages.

Where do you get your ideas .. I know it’s hard to say .. but do think of most of your ideas while doing a specific activity? What is your approach for tapping into your creativity? Or getting out of creative road block?


Dutch Sneakers and Fleakeepers

I go back and forth between writing and drawing in my sketchbooks, following trains of thought wherever they lead.Sometimes a drawing of a character or animal will suggest a story. A quick sketch of a goofy pirate inspired the poem Olf from Dutch Sneakers and Fleakeepers. Sometimes a word will be the catalyst.While scribbling some improvised nonsense in a sketchbook I wrote down the word tattlesnake, and a poem about a snake who spies on kids and tells on them to their parents pretty much wrote itself, to use an awful cliché.

Another source of ideas is rather odd, but has provided lots of material– I may suffer from some dyslexia, because I am constantly misreading things, especially if they are seen at a glance. For example I was in a supermarket walking along the frozen food aisle and in amongst the ice cream I thought I saw a carton labeled Alphabet Sherbet. In the split second before I looked more closely I thought “Alphabet Sherbet? Like Alphabet Soup or Alpha Bits Cereal? Do they make that?” It turned out to be Apricot Sherbet, or Assorted Sherbet or somesuch , but I really wanted to try some Alphabet Sherbet with little frozen letters.


Alphabet Sherbet from Flamingos on the Roof

It also sounded like a gentler, less psychotic version of

“word salad”… Anyway, the idea stuck with me and became the first poem in Flamingos on the Roof.


Some sketchbooks


endpapers sketch– Flamingos on the Roof

My overall approach is to attempt to find inspiration wherever I am. I keep a notebook with me all the time, and try to stay aware and open to ideas.It seems like a good idea to spend time every day writing and drawing without any goals, even if it’s for just a little while.I have a lot of interest in the Surrealist practices of automatic writing and drawing, it’s amazing what your subconscious will produce and the connections that are made .The final poem in Flamingos on the Roof came from a dream I had where I was walking in a garden at night and looked down by my feet to find a live golden sphinx about the size of a kitten looking back at me. The piece is called Tiny Baby Sphinx:


Tiny Baby Sphinx from Flamingos on the Roof

Tiny Baby Sphinx.
She looks at me and blinks.
I offer bits of catfood,
the kind that really stinks.
I wonder what she thinks about
at nighttime when she slinks about,
inviting other sphinxes out
to gather in the moonlight.

The other major source of inspiration for me is music. I try to think of the poems as songs that are recited, they need a rhythm, a cadence, and require a beginning, middle and an end like a good pop song. I’m definitely inspired by lyrics from people like W.S. Gilbert, Cole Porter, Hank Williams, Louis Jordan, Slim Galliard, Dylan, the Beatles, Ray Davies, Nick Drake, Robyn Hitchcock, Captain Beefheart, Beck….

I have played guitar most of my life, acoustic fingerstyle mostly.

My heroes are Mississippi John Hurt, Reverend Gary Davis, John Fahey, Leo Kottke and Jorma Kaukonen. I don’t have the talent or inclination to sing so I play instrumental stuff in open tunings. Since the strings are picked individually, rather than strummed, I find myself unconsciously thinking of the distinct notes as syllables of words, musical passages as sentences. This has helped me find another obtuse way of coming up with ideas for the poems, in this case, for translating musical phrases into written phrases– meters and beats for the poems. This is useful when I’m stuck and I can’t find the timing or rhythm of a particular poem– I’ll try to play around musically with the phrasing, substituting notes for words.

Generally when I feel blocked I try to let go and switch to another mode , reading, taking a walk, maybe working on something with a definite problem to solve like an illustration assignment, or I play Tetris– the only video game I’ve ever been remotely good at.

Which is your favorite poem In your most recent book Flamingos on the Roof? Why?


Cover- Flamingos on the Roof


paintings for Flamingos in progress

I have two favorite poems from the book. the first is Weatherbee’s Diner, a favorite because I worked on it over seven or so years, beginning with a goofy idea about a god-like figure who eats weather for dinner. It turned into a sort of nonsensical crossword puzzle that took a long time to finish, and was satisfying to solve.


Weatherbee’s Diner from Flamingos on the Roof

The second favorite is Allicatter Gatorpillar, which is about– big surprise–a half-alligator, half-caterpillar creature who, by and by, becomes an Allibutter Gatorfly. It’s just idiotic, and fun to recite.

How long does it take you to complete a book? What’s the process?

The writing is ongoing. I have sketchbooks with lots of poems in various stages of completion, and drawings to go with them in the same states. I get a group of finished ones together that I think will make a good collection and send them to my editor. She gives me her picks of the best ones, and we usually agree on almost all of them. I begin to put together a dummy and refine the drawings to go with each piece, and either work with a freelance designer like George Mimnaugh , who designed the first three books, or as in the case of Flamingos, I design it myself with the help of my editor, the art director and a designer at Houghton. We decide on a trim size together, and I get feedback on the cover and title page ideas, and font choices.


Dummy sketch for Sally from Flamingos on the Roof

Once we have a tight dummy together I start on the paintings, which usually take about two to three months, in between other assignments. I try to clear time so I can work on them exclusively for a few weeks straight, especially in the beginning.

Now that you are a well established author and illustrator of Children’s books.. do you still do much freelance illustration work? What’s the difference between these markets?


Silent Retreat for The New York Times Magazine

I still do freelance jobs all the time. I depend on it, but I also really enjoy the variety of doing illustration for different audiences and markets. There’s a nice balance to doing quick editorial pieces and other freelance work along with the longer process of building a kid’s book. Different mindsets are involved. I also keep painting for myself and have the occasional small gallery show, and I participate in group shows that come up. For a couple years I’ve been doing some drawing-based stuff with ink and pen that’s more about improvisation and line than the shape and color based aspects of my illustration. Last year, with the design help of Keith Shore, I produced a zine called Clunkers, a tract of pithy verse inspired by the sound of dropping names. The poems reference Tupac Shakur, Betty Crocker, Princess Di, Trent Lott and Roger Daltrey, among others. Doggerel, I believe is the word for it. Not for kids, but not really for adults either. More nonsense.


Not So Sure from Clunkers


Trent Lott’s Old Confederate Recipe from Clunkers

What is the most satisfying thing about being an author? The process? Seeing people enjoy your creations? Spending endless hours alone ;) ? Etc

It’s very satisfying to me when I receive the first bound copy of a book. I like the realization that it’s finished, it’s a book now, after all that time spent as separate little chunks of nonsense in my brain and scribbles, then sketches, paintings…all the thousands of little decisions made until it’s done. “Wow”, I think, “I just spent half a year making a book about, among other things, applauding slugs, Poseidon’s toupee and wind-borne biscuits….something is really wrong with me.” But even more satisfying than creating something very silly and unnecessary, is the response I’ve gotten from kids, parents, teachers and librarians as well as other artists and writers who like the books and appreciate them. I often get emails from parents who tell me that the books have inspired their kids to read, or write their own poems and stories, or draw. I didn’t set out to do anything worthwhile but it seemed to happen somehow. Oh well.

What is your work environment like? Do you have a pet? What music is playing? What are you drinking?

I have a space in a shared studio building with some friends, but I mostly work at home in a wooden house in Pasadena that I share with my girlfriend, Anissa, two cats, and a small fuzzy dog. I have a room for painting, and a slightly less cluttered office/computer room. I usually do prefer some kind of music on, more likely quieter and instrumental if I’m writing, louder and with lyrics if I’m drawing or painting. I drink green tea most of the day, and can’t wake up without it.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on another book of poems for Houghton that is due out in the spring of next year, and am illustrating a picture book for Atheneum by Jonah Winter…doing some paintings for a group show of small works at Giant Robot in New York. Let’s see…I’m finishing up a four page piece for the next installment of BLAB! due out this fall, editing an audio reading of Flamingos with music, and lastly, I’ve started on another project with Keith Shore, who is designing a book dummy with some of my drawings and quasi-poems in the form of questions, which I’ll pitch to publishers later this year.

Calef’s books a

No challenge too big for enthusiast

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

FOR a young entrepreneur to start a small documentary production company in the tough times we face is not easy.

But, for one 28-year-old it’s a challenge to be faced head-on.

Former radio personality Russell Fong has used his savings in the Fiji National Provident Fund to literally put his money where his mouth is.

He has taken the plunge to form Tanoa Productions.

Mr Fong said it was not easy deciding to dip into his FNPF funds through its small business scheme and to start from scratch.

But, with the full backing of his wife Carol they dived into making their dreams come true.

His production company is based in Tanoa Street, in Flagstaff, Suva, and is already excelling in making documentaries, video shoots and editing.

In just a few months of operations, they have already done six videos and are now the production company for the University of the South Pacific’s Marine Department.

Mr Fong said documentary work for USP involved going to villages and making documentaries on reefs, resource videos and whatever was needed.

“Well, I got this passion when I was young,” he said.

Mr Fong, who has worked the for production department at Fiji Television said the plan to setup a company started in 2005.

“I started foundation work like getting a licence and money for the equipment,” he said.

He has turned a garage into his office, saying wants to do videos for corporate organisations we well.

Apart from the financial challenges of setting up the production company, he said other challenges included learning skills on his own.

What’s Hot: Children’s Art Franchises

Interest from parents and prospective franchisees paints a pretty picture for children’s art franchises.

Art can not only imitate life–it can define it. Options for those looking to become a franchise owner are more diverse than ever, and you don’t have to be relegated to investing your money and time with a franchise you truly don’t have a passion for. More people who have business skills and also appreciate art and children are viewing children’s art franchises not only as an investment in and of themselves, but also in the community and its children.

According to Entrepreneur‘s Franchise 500, the number of children’s-learning franchise units grew 25 percent between 2002 and 2004. In the same period, children’s enrichment program units leapt 55 percent.

This interest in children’s art franchises is growing from both a need and a want, from both prospective franchisees and parents looking to enrich their children’s lives. Something all parties involved recognize is the importance of art and its continued presence in a child’s life, despite cuts made in school programs.

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Don’t underestimate these franchises as just glorified day care with art thrown in, says franchise consultant George Knauff: “They are true valid business models with high potential.” Knauff points to Young Rembrandts and Abrakadoodle as examples of franchises attracting the attention of ex-corporate executives, such as a couple he recently worked with. The husband, a high-powered lawyer, and wife, a TV producer, were seeking a way to make a good living and contribute to the community…and decided to buy a children’s art franchise.

Art franchises identify a gap that budget cuts in the school system have left wide open: Art education is on the chopping block. Mary Rogers, founder of Abrakadoodle, points to a National Art Education Association study that reveals about 45 percent of public schools are without a full-time visual arts teacher. And for the other 55 percent, teachers are saddled, on average, with a caseload of 550 students. Luckily, just because schools have cut art out of their curriculum, parents are not allowing it to disappear from their children’s lives–they’re looking to businesses like Abrakadoodle and Young Rembrandts to fill that gap. “[At Young Rembrandts], we feel we have a mission to reclaim the nation for the arts,” says Bette Fetter, founder of the franchise.

A curriculum centered on drawing, Young Rembrandts uses a unique step-by-step teaching method. “Art is a right brain activity, and our school systems are pushing left brain stuff,” Fetter attests. “We’re taking a right brain drawing, and we teach it in a left brain method.” Offering classes to preschool and elementary students, Young Rembrandts teaches drawing and cartooning and holds themed drawing camps.

Abrakadoodle offers an art education program that exposes children to an array of materials and mediums. Ranging from painting to 3-D to modeling compound, children are taught to see the art in everyday life. Exposing students to both master and contemporary artists, Abrakadoodle even has a food designer show her work as an example of still life. Abrakadoodle specializes in the early childhood market and has even partnered with Binney and Smith’s Crayola to provide art supplies.

In addition to wanting to sign up their kids for these art classes, parents are looking to also sign themselves up as franchisees. Says Fetter, “Parents buying these franchises are a big trend.” Fetter makes it clear to these franchisees that the franchise is about more than just art–“it’s about having a phenomenal, educational experience for a child.”

Abrakadoodle boasts a franchisee roster with a highly educated staff of owners. Each has at least a BA in education, two with MBAs, two with PhDs. Their franchisees consist of men and women who vary in ages, and who may or may not be parents. The thread that connects them, says Rogers, is “they are comfortable in marketing and being in a leadership role.”

Young Rembrandts franchisees are predominantly women who have left the corporate world after having kids, Fetter says. “They’d like to work a healthy business that matches up with this time in their life with children and community involvement,” she explains. Though some educators are among Young Rembrandts franchisees, a certified elementary teaching degree is not required. “We consider it more important for someone to be a managerial, community-involved, people person,” says Fetter.

Art isn’t the only activity parents are looking to get their children involved in, it seems, but art education franchises are definitely reaping the benefits of parents who want more well-rounded kids. “The trend has definitely grown,” notes Fetter. “Science, gymnastics, art, drama–I’ve noticed more offerings across the board.”

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, when getting back to basics is a welcome respite from our fast-paced digital world. “Kids need an outlet other than video games and computers,” says Knauff.

As far as the couple Knauff was helping find a franchise, they have just finished their training at Abrakadoodle. Says Knauff, “They’re so excited to play a role in the community, have the quality of life they want, have a great business and do things they couldn’t do in a structured work environment.”


Thien-bao Phi was born in Sai Gon, Viet Nam, the youngest son to two mixed blood Chinese and Vietnamese parents who raised him in the Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis as a Vietnamese boy in the hood. A graduate of Macalester College and retired pizza delivery boy, Bao has performed at numerous venues and schools locally and nationally, from the Nuyorican Poet’s Café to the University of California, Berkeley.

Currently he works as a program associate at the Loft where he curates and operates Equilibrium, a successful spoken word series he created, which invites nationally recognized artists of color/indigenous artists to share the stage with local Minnesota artists of color/indigenous artists. He is also working on his new CD, Refugeography, and continues to tour around the country.

Xuan, Boat People S.O.S. Program Coordinator, Community outreach and mental health education, fund development, working with the coolest kids on the block: Vietnamese senior citizens.

A graduate from MIT, Vudoo Soul is a special rarity in the music industry; he is as smart as he is talented. With a magical singing ability and a grounded work ethic he has quickly paved his path towards superstardom.

Christopher Vu is a product Vietnamese ancestry and sunny California, where he was born and raised. Now known as Vudoo Soul, his love of music was influenced by singer songwriter Stevie Wonder. Vu became a self-taught pianist during his time at MIT, where he sang with an A-Capella group called “The Logarhythms”. After a stroke of luck, he was picked for season two of American Idol, but was cut before the show’s taping began. This, however did not stop Vudoo Soul from continuing his dream of becoming a performer.

As a solo act he has reached much success and has performed in front of thousands of audiences across the nation. His “see-it-to-believe-it” reputation has stunned audiences throughout the USA and Asia. His singles “Lover Come Over,” “Infatuated,” “Oh Too Late”, “Runnin” can be heard here, and don’t forget to check out his exclusive interview with Eastbound FX! You should also sign up at his MySpace and check out his Xanga!

Pha Le

Alexia Dinh, Program Coordinator, Boat People SOS (BPSOS)

“No one is left behind,” is a phrase often used when referring to healthcare in the US. In actuality, many immigrant men and women seeking health care are left behind every day. Lack of health insurance, cultural stigmas, and lack of Vietnamese-speaking service providers and Vietnamese educational materials on basic health information lead to misconceptions and exacerbated health diagnosis. This workshop will address health disparities among Vietnamese Americans and equip attendees with ideas/skills on how they can make a difference.

Chi Alexia Dinh is the Program Coordinator for the Health Awareness Program for Immigrants (HAPI) at Boat People SOS (BPSOS). At BPSOS she does case management, conducts intakes, assesses needs to develop individualized health awareness plans, and refers clients to clinics, hospitals and local health care providers. Since she has been with the program, she has built and maintained partnerships with government agencies, funding sources, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, service providers, clinics and hospitals. Chi Alexia is also an entrepreneur and a community leader in humanitarian efforts. In her spare time, she organizes a project called “Roll Alongside Me”, which she founded to deliver wheelchairs to mobility-impaired individuals in Vietnam through fundraisers and charity banquets.

Alvina Yeh, Program Coordinator | Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)

Alvina Yeh is the Program Coordinator of APIAVote where she coordinates the internship and youth outreach programs. She is also a member of the events, communications, and web development teams for APIAVote. In addition to working at APIAVote, Alvina serves as the Midwest/West-Coast Regional Director for Sigma Psi Zeta Sorority, Inc. Alvina graduated from the University of Colorado – Boulder where she studied International Affairs and Ethnic Studies.

APIAVote is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that encourages and promotes civic participation of Asian Pacific Islander Americans in the electoral and public policy processes at the national, state and local levels

Pabitra Benjamin, Director of Organizing and Training | Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)

Did you know that the Asian American vote can swing the outcome of the election? This workshop will highlight the promising strength and influence of the APIA community by looking at voting trends, and promote the organization of voting campaigns on the college campus.

Pabitra Benjamin is the Field Director for the Rights Working Group, and was the former Field Director for APIAVote, where she worked with local APIA organizations to develop on-the-ground voter engagement programs. Pabitra graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a double major in Political Science and Languages & Cultures of Asia.

Dang Du, Candidate for Masters of Public Policy at Johns Hopkins University

This workshop will seek to equip young activists, community leaders, and emerging student leaders with the analytical tools and provide them with a multidisciplinary framework on how to translate thought into social action. Of particular focus are actions that affect social changes by fusing both a community organizing approach with useful policy analysis tools.

Anh Dang Du is currently a graduate student pursuing a masters degree in public policy at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies, located just outside of Washington D.C. His policy concentration focuses on macroeconomic issues including: economic growth, fiscal and monetary policy. His childhood experiences in Vietnam sparked a strong interest in economics. Accordingly, he regards economics as the study of poverty, or a discipline thoroughly concerned with poverty alleviation. He’s also working at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a DC-based think-tank that engages in research on government policies that affects those in poverty.

Daniel Pham, President, UCLA Vietnamese Student Union

The workshop explores gender and sexuality in the context of the Vietnamese community. Through different activities, participants will be able to investigate and survey how our culture discusses, or ignores, such pertinent issues. Participants will also be able to explore their own selves, their ways of thinking, and how they themselves affect others.

Born in 1986 in Vietnam, Anh Daniel Pham immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was 4. He did not come to discover his cultural roots until he attended UCLA. After a stint as an intern for the Vietnamese Student Union at UCLA, he was elected to be the Political Advocacy Coordinator for 2006-2007. Currently a third year student majoring in Neuroscience, Anh Daniel continues to be heavily involved in the Vietnamese community at UCLA and in Southern California through VSU.

Giang Nguyen

Anh Duong Hoang received his B.S. from the University of Connecticut, his M.S. from Southern Connecticut State University, and is currently pursuing his doctorate at Howard University in Washington, DC. He presently serves as the mental health counselor for the STEP program BPSOS. A mental health therapist at a private practice on Capitol Hill in the D.C. area, Anh Duong is currently one of few Vietnamese Ph.D. candidate in Psychology.

Jessica Dang, Fine Art Dealer

Cocktail parties prove to be the ultimate sink-or-swim test of social skills. Can you hold your own in a room of fine art experts, curators, collectors, and critics? This workshop will provide you with behind-the-curtains glimpse of the exclusive territory of the art world, and how to confidently navigate through its social situations and events.

Chi Jessica Dang is a consultant in her fiancé’s business of private dealing fine art (Impressionists, Modern Masters, Post-War and Contemporary). She is also a regular contributor to the JC Report, an online global fashion trend publication. She holds a Masters of Art (M.A.) degree in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art – New York, and a Bachelors of Business Administration (B.B.A.) degree in Design Management from Parsons The New School for Design

Hien Dang, Program Manager & Duong Hoang, Counselor, Boat People SOS (BPSOS)

The body of knowledge on Asian Americans’ mental health consistently cites Vietnamese Americans as underrepresented within the mental health care system. Specifically, multicultural mental health literature suggests stigma, saving face, perceived weakness, lack of awareness, and language as major barriers to the under utilization of mental health services among Vietnamese Americans. Sections of the presented workshop will aim to address the Vietnamese traditional beliefs about mental illnesses and the current mental health disparities; stimulate dialogue among participants on bridging the gap between mental health service providers and Vietnamese Americans; and equip the attendees with proven tools to “plant seeds” within their Vietnamese communities that can put an end to mental health disparities.

Chi Hien Dang is Program Manager of the Seniors and Trauma Survivors Empowerment Program (STEP) for BPSOS in Falls Church, VA. Chi Hien spearheads the national implementation of an innovative culturally responsive education and wellness program that addresses the mental health needs of Vietnamese seniors. Dedicated to serving the community, Chi Hien also invests in a wide range of service projects. In July 2007, she was a speaker at the Minority Women’s Health Summit in Washington, DC. Recently, Chi Hien enrolled at Argosy University’s College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, where she plans to graduate with an M.A. in Counseling Psychology in 2009.

Dr. Ngoc Quan Chu DDS, Chairman, Hope For Tomorrow Inc.

We are privileged to have access to the world’s best dental and medical resources at our finger tips. However, there are millions who lack such basic needs. By providing dental/medical care to the underprivileged, we give them hope. By teaching the underprivileged public health, we educate them and give them the foresight for preventive care. Good physical and mental health is the building block of any society. By educating and showing people how to take care of themselves, we give them the tools and knowledge to “Plant the Seedlings” for future generations which are healthier and stronger.

Dr. Ngoc Chu heads his own practice with two offices in Maryland and has served as an Instructor for Maryland State Dental Association and Southern Maryland Dental Society. He has 20 years of experience in Dentistry and has served and led 18 dental and medical missions. Dr. Ngoc is now an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Maryland Dental School Post-Graduate Prosthodontic Program, and the Chairman of the Board for Hope For Tomorrow, a Rockville, MD based non-profit organization.

Daphne Dang, Intern | Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment (VOICE)

Chi Daphne Dang grew up in San Jose, California. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006. She volunteered with VOICE in the Philippines as a legal representative and Office Manager from April to November 2007. Currently, Chi Daphne is continuing to work with VOICE through an internship in the organization’s Washington, DC office. She plans to pursue a graduate education following her internship.

A leading non-government organization (NGO) working in Vietnamese refugee issues, VOICE was established in 2007 to win asylum for the last remaining stateless Vietnamese refugees in the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia. With successes of these resettlement, VOICE will now focus on the fight to stop human trafficking. Currently, its dedicated staff is working to open a resource office to service trafficked Vietnamese women and children in Cambodia

Duc Dinh, Founder of Lend A Hand

With Vietnam’s rising economy, the gap between the rich and the poor has never been so far apart. We will have discussion on real and everyday scenario (base on a recent trip in December) and how we can provide impoverished children and orphans an opportunity to have a new beginning. Attendees will hear about heart breaking scenarios and learn of how they can make a difference. We will trade ideas with hopes of providing a major impact on children and poverty.

Anh Duc T. Dinh, 22 years old, is a community leader. At age 17, Anh Dinh founded Lend A Hand, Inc. (Vietnamese Youth Organization), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping impoverished children in Vietnam. The organization is in its fifth year and is running strong with successful humanitarian aid trips to Vietnam.

Helly Lee, Director of Policy, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

In January 2007, the U.S. and Vietnam signed an agreement to repatriate Vietnamese nationals from the U.S. What does this mean and how did we get here? This workshop will focus on the topics of deportation and immigration policies, how they impact Southeast Asian American communities, and why we should care about this issue.

Ms. Helly Lee is the Director of Policy for the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC). Prior to joining SEARAC, she spent some time on Capitol Hill interning and later working in Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s DC office. She was also a Program Coordinator at Hmong National Development (HND) where she coordinated the annual Hmong National Conference, and the HND annual scholarship among many other roles. Ms. Lee received her Masters of Social Work with a concentration in Social Policy and Evaluation from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and her B.A. in Social Work with a concentration in Criminal Justice from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Vudoo Vu, R&B Artist

Everyone’s heard that all is fair in love and war – the entertainment industry for the modern Vietnamese American is no different. The stories presented in this workshop will be both personal and anecdotal with insider info about the nature of the Vietnamese & American entertainment industry to benefit those who have aspirations as singers, musicians, actors, entertainment lawyers, or business persons.

As one of the defining faces of today’s emerging soul artists, Anh Vudoo Soul has broken barriers with the relentless, inspiring spirit that embodies his music. Displaying an explosive stage presence and a commanding voice that betrays his appearance, the MIT-graduate-turned-R&B singer-songwriter has infamously garnered a “you-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it” reputation. Grand-prize winner of NY Kollaboration 2005, Grand-prize winner of California’s Asian Elevation 2006 and champion of multiple Underground Hip-Hop/R&B Competitions in New York, he continues to work and travel constantly to bring a heart-felt voice to audiences across the nation.

ADRIAN HONG, Executive Director of Liberty in North Korea (LiNK)

Working out of LiNK’s headquarters office in the Washington, D.C. Metro area, Mr. Hong spends his time advocating for the North Korean people to governments, institutions and agencies worldwide, working on policy issues affecting the North Korean people, maintaining and supporting a large underground network of shelters for North Korean refugees in hiding, and organizing routes and operations on the underground railroad bringing North Korean refugees to freedom, with the help of a brilliant and dynamic core staff at LiNK. Mr. Hong has briefed and advised members of the US Senate and House of Representatives, the National Security Council, and officials of the US Department of State on the issue, as well as diplomatic and parliamentary representatives from the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Japan, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and the European Union, and officials of many international organizations and agencies.

While in college, Mr. Hong served as Executive Director of the 18th Annual KASCON (Korean American Students Conference), held at Yale University. Mr. Hong also helped found VASCON (Vietnamese American Student Conference), which now stands in its fourth year.

DOAN HOANG | Director of “Oh Saigon”

Chi Doan Hoang (Hoang Nien Thuc-Doan) is an award-winning producer, director, and writer of films, heading her own production company, Nuoc Pictures. She was born in Nha Trang, Vietnam to a South Vietnamese Air Force major from Saigon and a Mekong Delta socialite. Raised in Kentucky, Chi Doan wrote her first book about the Vietnam War at age 9 and made her first documentary film about war at the age of 13. A graduate of Smith College, Chi Doan spent years as an editor and writer, working for national magazines such as Details, House & Garden, Spin, and Saveur. “Oh, Saigon” is a seven-year documentary study on her family, funded by the Sundance Institute, ITVS, the Center for Asian American Media, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and has played in festivals nationally and internationally. “Oh, Saigon” recently screened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and won Best Feature Documentary at the Brooklyn Arts Council International Film Festival. Some of her other film titles include “Agent,” “Good Morning Captains,” and “A Requieum for Vegetables.” She is currently writing a screenplay about perception and producing a new documentary about Vietnam today.

DUY LOAN LE, Senior Fellow at Texas Instruments

Duy-Loan T. Le came to America in 1975. She graduated from Alief Hastings High School at 16 as Valedictorian of her class of 335 students in 1979. In 1982, Duy-Loan received her BSEE from University of Texas with High Honor and subsequently obtained her MBA from University of Houston while working full time. She started as a memory design engineer in 1982 at the age of 19 with Texas Instruments. She is a currently managing development project for wireless communication using leading edge technology.

In 2002, Duy-Loan made TI’s history by becoming the first woman and the first Asian American to get elected to the rank of TI Senior Fellow, a title held only by 4 other people at Texas Instruments. Duy-Loan holds 20 patents and 8 pending applications. Duy-Loan’s contributions to TI on the people front is no less impressive. She chaired TI Houston Women Initiative and helped initiate several programs supporting career advancement for minorities such as ‘Nurturing Minority To The Technical Ladder’, ‘Succession Planning for Female Fellows’, Professional Lecture Series, DSP Boot camp for Managers/Supervisors and TI Houston Vietnamese Initiative. Duy-Loan’s service to the community includes participation in various projects sponsored by United Way.

Quoc Phan, General Secretary, Len Duong International Vietnamese Youth Network

How can you turn your vision for Vietnam into a road map of smaller steps and turn it into reality? The youth movement and student activism have been a crucial voice in campus, national, and global campaigns. At a juncture, a student-led non-violent movement can be a revolutionary means to achieving social justice. Come learn about branding your message for your vision of Vietnam.

Anh Quoc D. Phan left Vietnam at the age of 3 with his parents and 6 siblings on a rickety boat built by his father. In 2003, he co-chaired the 3rd International Vietnamese Youth Conference at the University of San Diego, which yielded over 650 participants from 18 countries. Currently the General Secretary for the Len Duong International Vietnamese Youth Network, he recently chaired the 5th International Youth Vietnamese Conference held in Malaysia in January 2008.

Quang Ha, Candidate for MBA at George Washington University

With the Asian Greek scene becoming a hotspot for college co-eds, many are reaping the benefits of joining such organizations. This workshop will provide a great informative outlet to show that Asian Greek life is more than just about parties and friends. It is a way to get involved and to give back, not just to the Asian clubs at school, but to the overall community. This workshop will also show how we, specifically Asian American fraternities and sororities, are different from the stereotypes portrayed in movies such as Animal House and Old School.

Anh Quang Ha, is a first year MBA student at The George Washington University, concentrating in Human Resource Management. Prior to attending GW, he lived in San Diego where he worked at UCSD as a Human Resource Coordinator, helping chartered an Asian American Fraternity at Florida State University, one of the very first in the Southeast United States. An alumnus of the University of California, Irvine, where he majored in Asian American Studies, Anh Quang continues his active involvement in the Asian American community.

Tuyet Duong, Senior Staff Attorney, Asian American Justice Center (AAJC)

The recent murder of 4 children by their own father in Alabama highlights the urgent need to address family violence, a rampant but ignored problem in the Vietnamese American community. Although they are different types of victimizations, family violence and human trafficking have extensive intersections and roots as an emerging threat to the liberty and dignity of Vietnamese immigrants. Attendees will learn how to mobilize peers at school and in their neighborhoods to start a grassroots community education campaign on family violence and human trafficking.

Chi Tuyet Duong is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), an organization based in Washington, DC dedicated to advancing the human rights and civil rights of Asian Americans through advocacy, public policy, education, and litigation. At AAJC, Chi Tuyet leads its immigration legislative advocacy, education, and litigation efforts. She has been a featured speaker and panelist for various immigration conferences, civil rights panels, and Congressional briefings. She is currently the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Boat People SOS, Inc., and a founding board member of the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Washington DC.

Ylan Mui, Staff Writer, The Washington Post

Ever wonder if you have what it takes to succeed in the dynamic, 24/7 business of chronicling history? This workshop will help young people explore the world of journalism at a time of great change in the country and in the industry itself.

Chi Ylan Q. Mui is a staff writer at The Washington Post covering business news as well as consumer trends. She previously was an education reporter at The Post with a focus on young people, and her magazine story on race and diversity at a local high school 50 years after the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision won a national award from the Education Writers Association. Chi Ylan’s reporting has taken her all over the world, from Vietnam to Brazil, from Las Vegas to Bentonville, Ark. Chi Ylan previously worked at The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, her hometown. She is former Vice President of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association and a graduate of the group’s Executive Leadership Program.

Lisa Thuy Duong Nguyen, Executive Director of Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment (VOICE)

Chi Lisa T.D. Nguyen graduated from Arts/Law at the University of Sydney in 2005 and has worked extensively for the past two years on issues relating to refugee protection. In 2006, she volunteered at the Representative Office of the Vietnamese Community in Australia (VCA) as a legal representative, Office Manager and advocate for stateless Vietnamese people remaining in the Philippines. After returning from the Philippines in 2007, she accepted the position of Executive Director of VOICE.

XUYEN DONG-MATSUDA | Clinical Director, Orange County Asian Pacific Islanders Community Alliance (OCAPICA)

Cô Xuyen Dong-Matsuda holds a Bachelor degree in psychology (BA), a Masters degree in Clinical Social Work and Administration (MSW), and is a licensed psychotherapist (LCSW). She is a Service Chief of an Adult Outpatient Mental Health Service, which is part of a local government agency. She also serves as a consultant and trainer for the Orange County Asian Pacific Islanders Community Alliance (OCAPICA), Southeast Asian Education Foundation, Children Home Society, Little Tokyo Service Center and other human service organizations. In addition, she provides executive and personal life coaching to diverse professionals. Currently, Cô Xuyen is a doctoral candidate of clinical psychology program at CGI, School of Professional Psychology. She is also a long time member of the Vietnamese Professional Society. She is committed to contributing to the development of civil society in Vietnam through non-violent means and social activism.

Tuan Kien Nguyen, ANH OI Apparel Design

Do you have a digital camera and access to the Internet? That’s all you need to start your own viral social campaign. This workshop will show you the common and uncommon tools and secrets of starting a viral campaign. Combining today’s accessible technology with the creativity and socially conscience youth there is no limit on what can be done. Capture your audience, become a citizen journalist, and make a difference today!

Anh Tuan Kien Nguyen is a multi-disciplined artist residing in the Washington DC metro area. His work includes television production, documentaries, animation, and most recently ANH OI, his own apparel design. Currently, Anh Tuan is producing a new animation series titled, “Legends of Vietnam” (LOV), in which he retells ancient Vietnamese folklore that contains proverbs and underlying moral lessons. He hopes that the characters in this animation will ignite new interest in the Vietnamese culture and provide the younger generation with a variety of heroes and heroines to look up to. Anh Tuan studied classical art in Rome, Italy and graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in Imaging and Digital Arts in 2001.

JENNI TRANG LE | Writer, Director of “Oh Mommy” & Producer of “Chopsticks”

Chi Jenni Trang Le graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelors of Art in Anthropology. In a quest to create original works straight from their hearts, Chi Jenni and her cousin, Chi Nadine Truong began CuzCuz Productions in the fall of 2006, beginning with “Chopsticks”, a 15-minute family drama written and directed by Chi Nadine and produced by Chi Jenni. They are currently working on a feature length documentary on a Vietnamese family. In 2007, Chi Jenni received a grant from the “Armed With a Camera” fellowship sponsored by Visual Communications. Through that program, she was able to create “Oh Mommy” (Me Oi!), a 6 minute claymation short and her directing debut.

Her latest two film projects are in Viet Nam. Shot in December of 2007, “Viet Nam Overtures” is a documentary on symphony musicians, is directed by Anh Stephane Gauger and co-produced by Chi Jenni. She also served as the Production Manager for “Only If” a Russian comedy feature directed by Oleg Ossipanov.

Kristine Sa – Pop/Indie Artist

Chi Kristine Sa began her singing career at the age of 17 under Nemesis Records. Her debut album, “I Never Knew”, released in 2002, generated sales reaching all over the world. She continued her legacy with her second album, “reBIRTH” in 2004, her anime project, “AnimeToonz3” in 2005, and finally, “Hopeless Romantic” in early 2007. She is also a known voice actress in the Anime community and the musical voice of numerous English versions of anime theme songs for well-known shows such as “One Piece.” Most recently she’s released the first song she’s written using her first language, Vietnamese. The track titled “My Last Goodbye” (available on iTUNES) has gotten countless attention for its clever play on languages, weaving seamlessly in and out of English and Vietnamese in lyrical context. To this day she continues to pave the way for a new and unique brand of Pop music

STEPHANE GAUGER | Director of “Owl and the Sparrow”

Born in Saigon, Vietnam and raised in Orange County, California, Anh Stephen Gauger received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and French Literature at Cal State Fullerton. He subsequently worked in the camera and lighting departments on independent films in the U.S. and Southeast Asia, including “Three Seasons,” “Green Dragon,” and “Journey From the Fall,” all the while honing his writing and directing craft on short films.

His feature-directing debut, “Owl and the Sparrow,” shot on location in Saigon, premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival 2007 and has gone on to win nine awards at international festivals in Hawaii, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. Anh Stephane was featured in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of 2007. He was also nominated for “Breakthrough Director” at the Gotham Awards and the John Cassavetes award at Independent Spirit Awards. He is now in post-production on “Viet Nam Overtures,” a documentary on Vietnam’s classical music scene, including the National Symphony in Hanoi and the Saigon Symphony Orchestra. He is now forming a film distribution company with directors Anh Timothy Bui and Anh Ham Tran to showcase Vietnamese content films.


The Vietnamese American Student Conference (VASCON) recognizes that for the youth of today to be the leaders of the tomorrow, they must have a solid foundation to pave the way for success. That is why VASCON focuses on bringing together individuals from numerous fields and disciplines to dialogue with attendees to explore pressing issues confronting the Vietnamese American community and how to take part in the solution. The Beacon of Light Award recognizes the individuals who share this mission of advancing our community.

Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Bich is a former Director of the Vietnamese Service at Radio Free Asia (RFA). Born in Hanoi, Vietnam, and educated in Saigon, the United States, Japan and Europe, Mr. Bich is fluent in seven languages.

As an educator, Nguyen Ngoc Bich has taught at university level both in Vietnam and in the United States. Since coming to the U.S. in 1975, he has taught adult education, elementary school and high school in Arlington, Virginia, then at the university level at Trinity College, George Mason University (where he taught Vietnamese Literature and Vietnamese Culture and Civilization), and Georgetown University (where he was a teacher trainer in Bilingual and Multicultural Education). Together with his wife, Dr. Dao Thi Hoi, a linguist and ESL specialist, he was one of a group of educators who in 1979 founded NAVAE (National Association for Vietnamese American Education), the ancestor of NAFEA (National Association for the Education and Advancement of Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese Americans). Mr. Bich was the third president of NAVAE, which he headed from 1984 to 1986. Widely recognized for his work in education, he was appointed by President Bush to the post of Deputy Director, Office of

Bilingual Education and Minority Language Affairs (aka OBEMLA), at the U.S. Department of Education, where he served under Secretary Lamar Alexander from 1991 to 1993.

LE VAN KIET | Director of “Dust of Life”

Anh Le-Van Kiet was born in Vietnam. In 1982, at the age of four, he and his family became part of the Second Wave of Boat People who risked their lives to immigrate to the United States. He received a grant from the UCLA School of Film and Television for his short film “The Silence.” “Dust of Life” is the product of a four year journey in which marks Anh Le-Van Kiet’s first feature film debut.


My illustrations although looks like it was drawn by a 10 year old, is actually done by an adult.

Very often my art is a result of an exploration of Vietnamese culture, urging me to question important things in life like, “Why is Pho so great”?

Viet Art Project is an evolving series of portraits celebrating Vietnamese who have inspired others. Some are historic pioneers of human rights while others I accidentally googled somehow. Each has a story that needs to be told, encouraging us to pursue our dreams.

Bette Fetter

Founder and CEO of Young Rembrandts

When I was a child, art museums were not available to me as they were not a priority for my family. My first visit to an art museum wasn’t until I was in high school – an art teacher took our class on a field trip to a museum and I was soon-after hooked. At the same time, I became good friends with a girl whose family often went to museums and I always looked for the chance to tag along on their regular visits. Seeing the paintings in person, the textures and brushstrokes on the canvas, brought me closer to the artists. I became friends with artists I never met – from Van Gogh to Mary Cassatt. These visits opened my eyes to the inspiration of visual art and expanded my interest in arts education.

The joy of visiting art museums has stayed with me and continues to be something I enjoy today. This opened up a whole new world for me in the valuing and appreciation for art in and of itself. With an expanded awareness of all that is out there, I have yearned for more inspiration and ideas as I visit art museums. I joined a welcoming community that I didn’t know existed but longed for as I grew up. Additionally, this has contributed to my creativity and love for the visual arts, and has continued to help me thrive throughout life.

Bette Fetter is the founder and CEO of Young Rembrandts, the international art program for children. She began her career as a professional artist with a bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University, yet it was her fascination with child development, especially as it related to the visual arts, which led Bette into the field of arts education. In 2000, Bette and her husband, Bill Fetter, franchised Young Rembrandts Inc.

Ms. Fetter is also a member of the Women President’s Organization, an elite organization for women whose businesses gross more than $2 million annually. The group works to improve business conditions and promote acceptance and advancement of women entrepreneurs in all industries.