Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- I, Buffalo is rooted in 1960s and 1970s Southeast Asian art. It combines sweeping, gestural paint strokes, hand-painted textile patterns, and various ancient trade materials such as Japanese Obi thread, Indian black salt, silk, and linen.
- This mixed-media painting is part of a series titled Musings of an Origin, in which the artist explores the impact of transculturation and colonization through the blending of Western and Asian painting techniques, materials, and motifs.
- This work was inspired by the Silk Road, an ancient trade route that allowed the distribution of goods between the East and the West. The route began in Central Asia and extended to China and the Mediterranean. Goods were then shipped by sea to hubs such as Rome, Japan, and Java. The Silk Road is responsible for a significant amount of cultural exchange and globalization.
Artist Lien Truong was born in Saigon, Vietnam. She now lives in North Carolina, where she is an associate professor of painting and drawing at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I, Buffalo is from her series titled Musings of an Origin. In this series Truong speaks to the worldwide textile trade dating back to the Silk Road.
Her work’s tactile and unfinished quality gives the viewer a sense of traveling through time and space, along the Silk Roads of past centuries to the American West. Truong’s art twists and bends common understandings of Asia and its history, inspired by motifs from the East and complex stories around the textile trade. Her work reimagines colonial, transnational, and conflict-heavy histories and questions the concepts of origin, nationality, and borders.
Resources for Teachers:
- Explore Truong’s Musings of an Origin series.
- View highlights from the NCMA’s 2020 exhibition Front Burner: Highlights in Contemporary North Carolina Painting.
- Read an article about the history of the Silk Road.
Resources for Students:
- Watch a video about the history of the Silk Road and ancient trade.
- Learn more about the Silk Road through interactive stories from the American Museum of Natural History.
- Listen to Truong speak about her artistic influences.