Revisiting Vietnam American RadioWorks
  Vietnam Scrapbook

Sally Packard
Denton, TX, USA

In 1966 my father, who was an Air Force reconnaissance pilot, was shot down and killed over Laos near Khe Sanh. Until 1998 I knew very little about the war. Growing up we did not speak of it in my family nor did we speak of it to others, although we watched it night after night on television. In 1998 I received a Dozier Travel Grant (awarded to visual artists) from the Dallas Museum of Art and I traveled to Vietnam. I went on a "Vet's" tour but no vets had signed up. There were four of us on the tour, all children during
the war.

In the autumn of 1999 I co-organized a symposium and exhibition at the University of North Texas where I am a professor in the school of visual arts. The symposium panel consisted of six speakers; three Vietnamese Americans, two vets involved in reconciliation work with Vietnam and an academic whose work is centered on the war. The focus of the symposium was to simply bring two communities together to discuss where we are today in our daily lives. The exhibition was three artists work which included my sculpture, a Vietnamese American's photographs and an artist from Vietnam. We were all children during the war and our work dealt with the varying experiences of the war that have shaped our lives. My sculpture uses landscape form. Anyone who has been to Vietnam knows that the land and the people are intimately entwined. I kept thinking how we were all a part of the landscape, its ghosts and its scars.

Since the symposium I have met many Vietnamese Americans and it is through my friendship with them that I have begun to understand the complexity of the war and my relationship to it.

Submitted with Photo: One photograph is pretty difficult because the installation is large. The piece you see in the slide consists of nine landscape/Human forms made of copper refrigerator tubing and dyed silk. The tallest form is nine feet high. Some of the forms are not covered. On the floor are fused and slumped glass pieces that are a reference to water. The Vietnamese landscape is either water or mountains. I used landscape form to avoid a more political statement although everyone read the work as pretty political. I was in the DMZ (I Corp) near where my father was shot down, the work comes from that place - a lot of defoliation scars. The Vietnamese believe that souls wander if not tended, there are a lot of living souls with no place as well.



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