For his senior exhibition, Vo is sharing a project close to his heart. Part of the piece is a digitally manipulated video on loop, showing archival photographs of his grandfather in the Vietnam War. The other part is a 24-by-36-inch book filled with his grandfather’s letters, handwritten in Vietnamese. Vo has woven numerous layers into his exhibition as he explores the emotional impact of letter writing through listening to and honoring his grandfather’s story. Vo did not translate or edit his grandfather’s letters, so these pages are messy with words scratched out or erased, messages completed within days, weeks, and months at a time. “My grandfather mentioned to me how within writing letters, there is a lot of sincerity and humanity compared to sending a text,” Vo says. He has been interviewing his grandfather—first and foremost to hear his story and appreciate everything he has been through. Vo’s secondary goal is to let these stories shape the piece not only for the Bethel audience, but for his grandfather as well, revealing how Vo has interpreted and portrayed their shared history. “The piece is definitely a personal piece where nothing is translated into English, everything is all Vietnamese,” says Vo, who was born in Vietnam. “It’s all traditional, and it all feels like home.”
As Vo prepares to step into the world, degree in hand, his big picture dream is to work for a company like Nike that aligns with his beliefs and values as he helps design footwear or apparel—combining virtual design with something physical like product design. However, Vo clarifies that he perceives dreams and goals differently, and while he’ll pursue his dream job, his goal is to keep creating after graduation. “Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I think as long as I keep my hands busy, and my brain wired into learning and developing new ideas, then I think that’s fulfilling,” Vo says. As Vo pursues a life fulfilling to his nature and creative talents, he acknowledges his interest in traveling, especially as he reflects on his study abroad opportunities at Bethel.