Jerry Truong is a Maryland-based interdisciplinary artist, whose work deals with issues of history and memory as they relate to the exercise of power and the residuals of trauma. Truong received his B.A. in Studio Art from the University of California, Irvine in 2006 and his M.F.A. in Visual Arts from the University of California, San Diego in 2011, where he was the recipient of the San Diego Fellowship. He has had solo exhibitions at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL, 2015), Hood College (Frederick, MD, 2014), Lycoming College (Williamsport, PA, 2014), and a two-person show at Hamiltonian Gallery (Washington, DC, 2013). His work has been shown at venues such as BlackRock Center for the Arts (Germantown, MD, 2012), American University Museum (Washington, DC, 2013), Coohaus Art (New York, NY, 2014), D.C. Arts Center (Washington, DC, 2014, 2015), Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD, 2015), and the CUE Foundation (New York, NY, 2015). He recently completed a two-year fellowship program at Hamiltonian Artists in Washington D.C. and is currently a member of Sparkplug at the D.C. Arts Center.
I grew up in a small town in Northern California, coddled by the suburban American dream, oblivious to the social and political mechanisms that made our way of life possible. Even in my own home, I was blissfully unaware of the sacrifices my parents made to arrive in this land. They never once spoke of the horrors they survived when they escaped in 1979 from war-torn Vietnam by boat: the constant fear of pirates, suffering from starvation, and witnessing family members drown.
It is our job as thinkers and art practitioners to draw attention to the inequalities and injustices in our social institutions, but this must be done in clever and covert ways; otherwise, we risk becoming silenced by the very powers that we are trying to critique but at the same time depend upon. My goal is to create situations that allow for an abrupt awakening for the unsuspecting viewer: to be looking at a quiet display with striped paintings and mannequins, only to be shocked by the violence that it masks; to explore literal holes in the wall, but then to become an unwitting participant in an elicit sexual act; or to be awed at the sight of a sunset while walking on the back of a boat-like structure, that is actually a place of loss and mourning.
Using transformation, deception, and multiplicity as conceptual strategies, my intention is for the viewer to be forced to peel back the formal façade. In the process, questions about identity, memory, and history are revealed in the work, offering the potential for a better understanding of the self and our individual roles within civil society. I operate with the belief that there is no greater accomplishment than to be a catalyst for change, a force that is able to break people out of the mundane routine of passive acceptance.