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Flashbacks: Echoes of Past Issues

WITH ART BY

LIEN TRUONG LIEN TRUONG is an Assistant Professor of Art at UNC Chapel Hill. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, she received her BA from Humboldt State University and her MFA from Mills College. Recent awards include fellowships from the Institute for the Arts and Humanities in 2017 and from the North Carolina Arts Council in 2016. Her work has been exhibited in several venues including the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; the Centres of Contemporary Art, Moscow and Yekaterinburg; the Oakland Museum, CA; the Pennsylvania Academy of Art; Galerie Quynh, Ho Chi Minh City; Nhasan Collective, Hanoi;

141 PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER PAUL GEOFFRION

Enough for a bag of rice. Perhaps a bottle of cola. The store was two blocks away, down Cumberland Avenue and to the left. The store wasn’t Asian, but Mr. Franks, a white man, carried a few Asian foods, now that as many Lao, Cambodians, and Montagnards lived on Cumberland Avenue as black people. Mr. Franks stocked one shelf with jasmine rice, Asian sauces, and noodles. Chhem Sokha rarely went to Mr. Franks’ store, and she had almost never walked there alone. Even when Sok drove her, the place made her stomach quiver. Men loitered outside, drinking beer, most of them black. Sometimes they spoke words to her in English she did not understand. She worried they were laughing at her or making threats. But this morning, Sok called from the factory and said they asked him to work another half shift and possibly stay longer. He had already worked all night. She knew when he got home he would want to sleep, but tomorrow was the Festival of Prayers for the Dead at the Temple. She needed to prepare food for the monks. Chhem Sokha folded the bills and slid them in a pocket sewn under the waistband of her slacks, then padded barefoot to the kitchen to find her cloth market bag. The house was small, but new. She was proud of her house. A church called Habitat for Humanity had built it for them, though Sok helped with the construction whenever he was off work. Sometimes Sok went to church on Sundays. Church was what Cambodians called Christian meetings. Sokha did not go to church. She had tried it once and found it frightening. That church was in an old movie theater with broken seats. She did not like the man they called Pastor Le. Even though he was Cambodian and spoke in the Khmer language, his words were angry. He reminded her of Angka,

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Musings of an Origin, 2017 (acrylic, oil, silk, fabric paint, linen, antique gold-leaf obi thread, black salt, smoke on canvas, 72x60) by Lien Truong

She wondered why Jesus and Buddha could not just get together and talk about ways to reward Khmer people in the next life for what they had endured in this one. the Red Khmer, during the evil time in Cambodia. Pastor Le warned that Buddha was a devil. He described a dungeon called hell where Buddhists would suffer horrible torments. Had not Buddhists suffered enough? She wondered why Jesus and Buddha could not just get together and talk about ways to reward Khmer people in the next life for what they had endured in this one. What had also bothered her about church was the music. They sang American songs, noisy like and Southern Exposure, San Francisco. Art residencies include the Oakland Museum and the Marble House Project. Her work has received reviews and mention in publications including New American Paintings, ART iT Japan; Art Asia Pacific, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her art appears in collections such as the Weatherspoon Art Museum of Greensboro, NC; the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art; the Post Vidai in Vietnam; and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Vietnam. See more of her work on her website.

Profile for East Carolina University

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2019  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2019  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

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