Wk 10 – Artist Conversation – Tony Nguyen

Exhibition Information

Artist: Tony Nguyen
Exhibition: Vending Machine Peddling Happiness
Media: Copper, brass, toy containers
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dr Maxine Merlino Gallery
Website: Eltigresite.wordpress.com
Instagram: @elll_tigre

About the Artist

Tony Nguyen is a Vietnamese student whom is a metal smith, which is a black smith that includes jewelry. He is currently in his final semester as a super senior and hopes to build a portfolio before he continues toward a Masters degree. He plans to go to community college to get more experience as a metal smith and to hopefully get a part time job too.

Formal Analysis

The artist uses copper for the frame of the the vending machine and decorates it with brass. The copper is treated with acid to make it seem like wood and the brass is made to look like gold. I believed the work to be wood until the artist told us otherwise and explained the process of using acid to color the metal. He also collected the toy capsules and used them as a part of the piece.

Content Analysis

The artist explains the word neoteny to be the retention of juvenile features in adulthood. The purpose of his gallery is to create a sense of nostalgia for the audiences’ childhood and youth. He wanted to make people happy and to make them smile when going through each piece of work. His pieces also represented things that made up his childhood and would show the influence of his family’s culture such as the design on the toy machine.

Synthesis / My Experience

The work with the vending machine immediately sent the message of childhood to me as I entered the gallery. It made me smile and remember the toys I had gotten from them as a child. I truly believed the work was made out of wood and was really surprised when I learned it was all out of metal. I was really tempted to spin the crank on the machine but i had the pleasure of learning from the artist that it works only on the first time of setting up the machine.


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