We're doing this our own way, 2023, oil on canvas 39 x 72 inches (99 x 183 cm)
b. 1982, Canada
Chrystal works primarily in oil on canvas, bringing viewers into her experiences growing up in Canada in a family of Vietnamese refugees. Her paintings often show scenes of ‘everyday’ family activities that represent how Canadian cultural traditions are experienced by first and second-generation Vietnamese Canadian families who are constantly adjusting how they perform their multiple identities as their sense of connection to their new homeland recalibrates over time.
Beyond the surface, each composition uses ordinary objects such as backpacks and watermelons to act as a conduit into the world of mixed cultural values and traditions. The drive behind this work is to represent Asian faces in the mainstream fine art world in ways that are not exotic, magical, or otherwise orientalized and draw attention to how Canadian identity is formed and guarded that can keep racialized Canadians from ever feeling entirely and truly ‘Canadian.’
Her debut exhibition, Once for a While, showed in 2022 at the Chapel Gallery and the Victoria Arts Council Satellite Gallery at McPherson Playhouse, both in Victoria, Canada. Working and residing in Victoria, her works can be found in private collections and institutions including the Royal British Columbia Museum.