Lesbian Precepts (detail), 1992
Hanh Thi Pham

Personal Statement
Hanh Thi Pham

In April of 1975, in exchange for being with my parents and sisters as a family unit evacuating out of Saigon, South Vietnam, I had to surrender my given name, my real birth date, and my original identity to comply with set requirements dictated by the United States government's overseas policy regarding Vietnamese evacuees. The experience was like a death sentence upon me, for I was uprooted and forced into self-erasure. In Amerikkka, I exist as a Vietnam War refugee directly legalized as an American citizen, but stigmatized as an alien. For two decades while functioning under the American system and contributing my youthful energy, work expertise and responsibility, I have experienced an escalated economic displacement, degradation and devaluation, anti-immigrant hostility, and racial discrimination from the patriarchal dominant structure that validates white Eurocentric morals and compulsive hetero-sexuality.

The condition for living and working without being constantly oppressed and repressed has become increasingly urgent to my survival. My art works are created out of the necessity to assert my racial, political and sexual identities. The use of photocopy and written language is an attempt at developing a healthy self-concept, a non-binary gender but lesbian-defined revolutionary attitude. Whenever my art as knowledge becomes practice, my campaign for liberation and freedom becomes active rather than reactive. I fervently believe in the validity of female archaic concepts and sacred integrity.

As an activist artist, I continue to construct Lesbian-specific imageries (sexual and non-sexual) and to explore metamorphic Asian identies; I am organizing my collaborative work to become even more brutally honest, more inflammatory when need be, and all the more blatant to bring about change. I personally believe that the future is to be re-shaped most likely by outlaw leadership - by aware, autonomous beings - many marginalized femmes who along with their brothers and sisters have formed revolutionary roots throughout North America. (from the catalog Hanh Thi Pham. Fukuoka City, Japan: Fukuoka Art Museum, 1997.)


Hanh Thi Pham was born in 1954 in Saigon (presently Ho Chi Minh City), South Vietnam. In 1975 she left Vietnam as refugee and settled in California, USA. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Art, California State University, Fullerton, in 1982; a Master of Arts in Art, California State University, Fullerton, in 1984; and a Master of Fine Arts in Art, California State University, Fullerton in 1986. She was special faculty/visiting artist, California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, 1989-1992, and lecturer, Rockefeller Fellow Recipient, University of California, Los Angeles, 1992-1993.

Hanh Thi Pham has had one-person exhibitions at The Exit Gallery, California State University, Fullerton, California; The West Gallery, California State University, Fullerton; Photo Gallery, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, California; Mesa Art Gallery, San Diego, California; and The Modern Art Gallery, Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka City, Japan.

She is represented in the public collections of The Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, California; The University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach, California; California Museum of Photography, The University of California in Riverside; The University of South Florida, Tampa; and the University of California, Los Angeles.

In 1992-1993, Pham received the UCLA Rockefeller Fellows Grant, American Generations: The Asian Pacific Program - Generational Identity and Sensibility.


Hammond, Harmony and Catherine Lord. Gender, Fucked. Seattle: CoCA (Center on Contemporary Art), 1996.

Leong, Russell, editor. Asian American Sexualities: Dimensions of the Gay & Lesbian Experience. New York: Routledge, 1996.

Machida, Margo. "An Expatriate's Consciousness: The Photography of Hanh Thi Pham" in Hanh Thi Pham: A Vietnamese: Her Body in Revolt, no editor cited. Fukuoka, Japan: Fukuoka Art Museum: 1997.

Raiji, Kuroda. "The Transparent Armor: Asia X America X Japan" in Hanh Thi Pham: A Vietnamese: Her Body in Revolt, no editor cited, Fukuoka, Japan: Fukuoka Art Museum: 1997.

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