Fall 2012

They Call Us Viet Kieu

Minnie Phan received a Center Micro-Grant to complete and distribute They Call Us Viet Kieu, a short memoir on Vietnamese heritage and Vietnamese-American identity.

Project Description

Minnie Phan received a Center Micro-Grant to complete and distribute They Call Us Viet Kieu, a short memoir on Vietnamese heritage and Vietnamese-American identity. Visiting Vietnam in 2013 and being described as “Viet Kieu” (Vietnamese diaspora) inspired her to explore the complexities of Vietnamese identity and bring awareness to the Vietnamese American community. They Call Us Viet Kieu uses visual narrative to recount the experience of Minnie’s parents’ as refugees from Vietnam, as well as her solo journey back to the country. Through 32 full-color pages, Minnie illustrates the life-changing experiences in Vietnam that taught her how to embrace cultural heritage in a society that encourages assimilation. Minnie also engaged with members of the local Asian American community by listening to their stories to gain perspective on her own experience with culture clashes and microaggressions. Once completed, They Call Us Viet Kieu was presented at a gallery show at California College of the Arts. Vietnamese and American translations were shared with community centers in the Bay Area (Vietnamese Youth Development Center in SF, Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center in SF, Kearny Street Workshop, Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay, Huong Viet Community Center in Oakland).

Project Outcome

Since its publication in 2013, They Call Us Viet Kieu has been admitted into libraries and community organizations in NY, TX, OR, WA (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and CA (San Francisco Public Library; California College of the Arts; University of California, Davis). It joined the permanent zine collection of the Riot Grrrl Movement exhibition, “Alien She,” at YBCA in 2015. There are currently over 500+ copies in circulation. Copies of They Call Us Viet Kieu are available here in both Vietnamese and English.

This project had a rewarding and lasting impact [on me]. Becoming active in my community exposed me to another side of the creative process. I want to continue to be active [in my community] and fully embrace the great life beyond CCA. – Minnie Phan



Interdisciplinary art students collaborated with developmentally disabled artists working at Creativity Explored in San Francisco to put their concepts into action.

Project Objective:

In “Fabricators,” students participated in approaches to arts education through collaboration with developmentally disabled artists and their instructors. In “Fabricators” students build relationships with peer artists from Creativity Explored. Creativity Explored artists act as the design experts while ENGAGE students work to turn their artistic vision into a reality. This class offered students a unique opportunity to consider the social interconnections between art, arts education, and industry through real world projects that culminated in a final exhibition by the artists at Creativity Explored.

Lia Wilson’s review “Fabricators: Blurring the Insider/Outsider Boundary” reflected on the importance of the show:

Fabricators refuses to let outdated and romanticized assumptions about ‘pure original artistic vision’ cling to Creativity Explored artists, and instead endows them with the basic respect and agency of directorial control.

Project Outcome(s):

The ENGAGE course concluded with an exhibition of works by a survey of artists from Creativity Explored and incorporated student writings for the exhibition contexts. “Fabricators” enrollees were responsible for formatting a final project summary report that included a narrative, key images, and analysis of their collaboration on a real world project with Creativity Explored.

Fabricators: Blurring the Insider/ Outsider Boundary  by Lia Wilson (Published in Daily Serving, December 2012)

Special thanks to the Creativity Explored Artists included in the final exhibition

Camille Holevoet | Christina Chong | Thanh Diep | Lance Rivers | Natalie Spring