Established in 1987 when David Thomas, the organization’s founder and a Vietnam veteran returned to Vietnam and dedicate IAP as an organization for art, cultural, and educational exchanges between the United States and Vietnam. Since founding, the IAP has supported more than fifty artists and cultural representatives through our residency program. The organization’s early success includes important exhibitions namely “As Seen From Both Sides” (1991), “Seven Pillars” (1994), and “An Ocean Apart” (1995) which introduced Vietnamese artists to the American audience for the first time after the war.
IAP is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization conducts programs of cultural development and artistic exchange between the United States and the countries of Southeast Asia, with a primary focus on Vietnam. IAP offers various activities through three core programs: 1) organize exhibitions and promote art education, 2) provide artists’ support through residencies and career development programs, and 3) foster mutual development via partnerships and collaborations. IAP has formed partnership with museums and art institutions, as well as independent art spaces in different parts of the world, to create strong partnerships and support for the development of arts and culture.
The IAP commits to engage and cultivate art communities between the United States of America and Southeast Asia by activating partnerships and collaborations, developing resources that empower artists and creative projects, and furthering the boundaries of art in its intersection with other disciplines.
During the summer of 1987, seven years before the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo and eight years before the normalization of relations, David Thomas, IAP Director, traveled to Vietnam with a group of educators under the aegis of the U.S. Indochina Reconciliation Project. This was his first return to Vietnam since serving as a U.S. Army combat artist/engineer in Pleiku, South Vietnam, in 1969-70. During this trip Thomas met with then Deputy Director of the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, Mr. Nguyen Van Chung, and the idea for the first major cultural exchange project between the United States and Vietnam took root.
Thomas returned during the summer of 1988 to meet with officials in Vietnam to continue discussions for an exhibition that would contain twenty artists from each country in an exhibition about the American War in Vietnam. The result of these discussions was the internationally acclaimed exhibition As Seen by Both Sides: American and Vietnamese Artists Look at the War. This exhibition opened in the Boston in 1989, and travelled to seventeen U.S. museums and the three National museums in Vietnam, then closing in Ho Chi Minh City In 1994. As far as we know, this was the first time that a serious attempt was made for the people of both countries to see and hear the art and voices from the “other side” after the war.
The early work of the IAP drew on the arts and artists create a bridge between the United States and Vietnam. Our second exhibition and book was An Ocean Apart: Contemporary Art from the United States and Vietnam, which was circulated between 1996 and 2000 by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) was designed to begin to heal the deep wounds which still existed between Vietnamese living in the U.S. and those in Vietnam.
With the government’s loosening of many restrictions in 1986 when the Vietnamese government established its “Doi Moi” (Renovation) open door policy, following by the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the US in 1995, it gradually became easier to develop cultural and educational exchanges and allowed the IAP to conduct our projects. As a result, we concentrated more on the needs of the artists in Vietnam by creating opportunities for artists to exhibit, share their skills in exchange programs with American counterparts, and work with exciting residencies in the US.
Since 2016, under the new directions by Executive Director Nhung Walsh, the IAP has been focusing more on the arts and creative projects in Southeast Asia region, working with our partners and institutions to enable professional exchanges and opportunities for artists between the United States and Asia, with Vietnam in the heart of our focus. Today, Vietnam’s economy is developing at a very rapid rate and artists face exciting new opportunities and enormous challenges. Many artists now have the opportunities to exhibit their work both in Vietnam and increasingly internationally. There are highly acclaimed artworks, publications, films, and cultural productions made by Vietnamese artists and they critically contribute to the conversations of art and life in Vietnam. Similar to Vietnam, all Southeast Asian countries are extremely rich in cultures and histories. The region is emerging as new focus on the global art map and artists in Vietnam are contributing to this colorful and exciting regional art fabrics.
The IAP has offers various activities through three core programs mainly in Vietnam (in Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City), the US (Worcester, Boston, Chicago, and New York), as well as projects across East Asia and Southeast Asia:
1) organize exhibitions and promote art education,
2) provide artists’ support through residency and career development programs, and
3) foster mutual development via partnerships and collaborations.
• Curated major exhibitions of Vietnamese art:
As Seen by Both Sides: American and Vietnamese Artists Look at the War (1991, travelled by the IAP), An Ocean Apart: Contemporary Vietnamese Art from the United States and Vietnam (1995, travelled by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service), Seven Pillars: The National Treasure Artists of Vietnam (1997); Yuyu Vietnam Blue (2015, Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts); Kệ - History of Now (2017, Wedeman Gallery), Defoliant- Failed Not, Agent Orange’s aftermath through artists’ eyes (2017, Wedeman Gallery), Tammy Nguyen: How to Breathe in Selected Tropics (2017, Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Tran Minh Duc: Two-Headed Raincoat (2018, Haenghwatang, Seoul), Ether - Sunset in Between (2019, Ho Chi Minh City), Reunion of the Type - The Lost Type of Vietnam and Chicago Gold-leaf Techniques (2019, Galerie Quynh, Ho Chi Minh City)
• Sponsored more than fifty Vietnamese artists’ travel to the United States for residencies or workshops.
•. Video interviews with Vietnamese national treasure artists Tran Van Can, Nguyen Tu Nghiem and Nguyen Gia Tri.
• Published Huynh Phuong Dong: Visions of War and Peace. A book about the artist of the same name.
• Initiated and facilitated the donation of thirty-eightFrancisco Goya prints by Dr. Hans Guggenheim to the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum in Hanoi.
• Initiated and facilitated the donation of archives by former OSS member Henry Prunier to the Army Museum in Hanoi.
• Collaborated with the Fine Arts Association to create the Hanoi Center for Excellence in Graphic Arts (CEGA) and facilitated donations of an etching press and a lithography press. An additional etching press was delivered to the Hue College of Fine Arts.
• Sponsored US master printers to provide workshops at CEGA in etching and lithography.
• Organized study visits to Vietnam for several groups including artists, museum officials and trustees, university administrators, and students who wanted to learn about Vietnamese art and culture.
• Linked major art schools in the U.S. with counterparts in Vietnam through the Sister Schools Program.
• Commissioned a documentary film about Ho Chi Minh and his work with the OSS by filmmaker Nguyen Mong Long
• Developed a significant collection of books on Vietnamese art which serve as a research resource for scholars of Vietnamese culture.
ARTISTS FELLOWSHIP UNDER IAP'S SPONSORSHIP
Mr. Tran Viet Son, Former President of the Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture
Mrs. Vu Giang Huong, Former Secretary General of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association
Mr. Quach Phong, Former Secretary General of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association
Mr. Nguyen Quan, artist and art critic
Mrs. Le Phuong Lan, Former Director of International Cooperation for the Vietnam Fine Arts Association
Mr. Duong Tuong, translator, author and art critic
Mr. Dang Xuan Hoa, artist
Mr. Le Thua Tien, artist
Mr. Nguyen The Minh, Former President of the Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture
Mr. Huynh Phuong Dong, artist
Mr. Tran Luong, artist
Mrs. Dang Thi Khue, artist
Mrs. Nguyen Vu Quyen, artist
Mrs. Vu Bach Lien, artist
Mr. Le Huy Tiep, artist, teacher
Ms. Vu Kim Thu, artist
Mr. Nguyen Long Hieu Bach, Former President, Vietnam Fine Arts University
Mr. Nguyen Long, artist, teacher
Mr. Trung Be, Former President of the Hue Fine Arts University
Mr. Nguyen Hoang, Former President of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts University
Mr. Nguyen Mong Long, filmmkaer
Colonel Phan Oanh, artist, Former Director of the Army Museum in Ho Chi Minh City
Mrs. Dang Thi Duong, artist, teacher
Mr. Tran Khanh Chuong, Secretary General of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association
Mr. Le Quoc Viet, artist, scholar
Mr. Phan Cam Thuong, artist, scholar
Mr. Nguyen Quang Thang, artist
Ms. Nguyen Thi Kim Chi, artist
Mrs. Tran Thi Huynh Nga, gallery director of Blue Space Gallery
Mr. Truong Han Minh, artist
Mr. Le Kinh Thai, artist
Mrs. Nguyen Duyen, artist, Librarian at the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association
Mrs. Bang Thi Bang, artist, teacher
Mr. Le Cong Hau, translator
Mr. Nguyen Van Chung, Former Director of the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum
Miss Ngo Thai Nguyen, fashion designer
Mr. Nguyen Long, graphic designer, teacher
Mr. Dao Chau Hai, sculptor
Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Lam, sculptor