With his enthusiasm, artist Huy conducted a project featuring 2,021 statues about children wearing protective suits to go to quarantine areas, which has received great support from the community.

He granted an interview on the Weekly Publication of Nhan Dan (People’s) Newspaper to talk more about his project.

Q: The statue featuring the image of a child in a protective suit being taken to a quarantine area has left a strong impression on the community. Could you share about the inspiration for this artwork?

A: I created the statue at the end of May after I saw children wearing protective suits in a quarantine area in Dien Bien Province. Under the burning sun of the summer, those images were very touching. While making the statute “Dien Bien Child”, I thought of my children who were still at home safely with their parents and grandparents. Meanwhile, many children had to be isolated in the hot weather. Many of them had to go to quarantine areas alone.

Children like stuffed animals very much. Therefore, I created a statue of a child holding a teddy bear which was like his friend.

Q: With the strong support from the community, why did you decide to implement the project “Vietnamese children”?

A: I like children so much. I have always observed them and learnt many things from their perspectives and feelings. The first things that came to my mind while making the statue were the words “humility, honesty, courage”. These are my favorite words among Uncle Ho’s five teachings to children. The word “courage” is uttered gloriously. I think so. I have also always encouraged my children to be brave when they had to go to hospital or get a vaccination. I am very impressed with the spirit of these three words.

I think children are always a great motivation and a mirror for parents to look at to act, behave and live in a meaningful manner. They are the inspiration, the purpose of life, the future and hope for adults. I believe that all people want all the best for our kids.

Q: The statue “Dien Bien Child” has transcended geographical and time limits to become an emotional symbol. What do you hope to convey through it?

A: When the epidemic spread widely and rapidly and Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, Hai Duong and Ho Chi Minh City became major outbreak areas, we all understood that the number of children who were isolated was not a small minority. There would be children anywhere in our country having to go to, or being born in, the quarantine areas and even many children would be infected by the epidemic.

They are really as brave as the children during the wartime in the past. I named my small statue “Dien Bien Child” with the aspiration of taking a heroic historical place as a symbol of solidarity and strength to overcome this difficult period. It was not a child in a specific locality. It was the image of “a humble, honest and brave Vietnamese child”.

Painter Le Huy

Q: Did the emotional effect from the statue “Dien Bien Child” prompt you to launch a meaningful project to call for the joint efforts of the whole community to purchase ventilators for Ho Chi Minh City?

A: I used the image of a pentagram for the packing and publications accompanying the statues. I called it the “star of hope”, calling for people to join hands with us, depending on their conditions.

During the process of carrying out the project, I have received great support, empathy and companionship. Over 100 statues for the first release were sold in just eight hours. The collected amount was donated to the Song Foundation and Hat Vung (Sesame) Charity Group. That was a source of great happiness for creators like us. People have spread, shared and supported as well as extended their thanks, encouragement and sympathy to fanpage of Lamphong Studio (the name of my small art studio). They have become a great motivation for me to continue this project.

Q: You are implementing the project’s second phase with the target of 2,021 statues. How are you carrying out the project?

A: We hoped that we could complete the project with 2,021 statues to mark the year in which we have been facing many difficulties and challenges but also witnessing great solidary and love among the whole community. However, with our financial capacity and conditions, we need extra funding for production to continue our project.

Due to the slowness and inefficiency in seeking different operating methods and funding sources, I decided to continue the project’s second phase by receiving 50% of production and operation costs. We want the project to be as public and transparent as possible and do not want to receive customers’ money and forward them to the Funds, so we begged them to transfer 50% of the amount (VND330,000) to Lamphong Studio and the remainder to one of three Funds (Song Foundation, Hat Vung Group and COVID-19 Vaccine Fund).

Despite making two transfers, they were still happy to accompany us to help the project continue on the longer journey. Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and many other localities are applying social distancing, so we are facing many difficulties in production and transportation. Almost all orders to Ho Chi Minh City and southern provinces will be sent later. However, we still continue to receive support from the people.

Q: Perhaps, this is a rare sculptural project that was carried out right amid severe epidemic. What do you think about the joint efforts from the arts to the community?

A: I always think that art’s purpose is to serve the community and make life better. When I see the messages, photos, encouragement, sympathy and love from people for “Dien Bien Child”, I realise that the arts have spread and brought positive values to everyone. Initially, I just thought that I created the statues for pleasure while donating the money collected from their sale to Bac Giang to support epidemic control. However, thanks to the customers’ love, we wish to go further and contribute more to the COVID-19 prevention and control in the country.

In my opinion, “joining hands” is a very “valuable” phrase because it expresses the sympathy and support from the arts to the community and vice versa, the spread and companionship of the community for the arts. Thus, people can make their contributions to help the country overcome difficulties towards good things, happiness and peace.

Thank you very much for your interview!