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To UnMask | Mary Nguyen

by beth sorensen
The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre
4 September – 26 September

Mary Thi Nguyen is a local Vietnamese-Australian artist who received a Blacktown Arts Pat Parker Residency in 2019. She is also a part of our Open studio group of local artists.

Mary’s residency dealt with issues that Vietnamese women struggle with when they migrate here. With their limited English skills, they find jobs in the beauty and nail industry. This is an area of employment they think will allow expression of their beauty ideals. However, they are frequently exploited. Mary completed a diploma course in beauty therapy when she migrated to Australia so she could work in this field.

Working in the nail industry exposes them to chemical and dust hazards that can have long lasting impacts on their health. Exposure to the harmful chemicals can decrease one’s fertility, cause cancer, respiratory problems, skin diseases, birth defects and miscarriages.

For this project, Mary visited a number of nail and beauty salons in Blacktown and Western Sydney to interview women. As no one was willing to speak, she focused on her own experience to create the works for this exhibition.

Read our interview with Mary here

This is an exhibition of Mary’s work for the Pat Parker Residency and the Open studio.

The exhibition will be open from 4 September to 26 September 2020.

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Image: Pretty Nails from the series of works created for the Pat Parker Residency