Today on The Art of Lost and Found, I am joined by my longtime friend and painting partner, Diem Truong-Nguyen. Diem grew up in a strict traditional Vietnamese household where she was expected to stay obedient and get good grades. So much so that her only form of self-expression, art and music, had to be kept a secret from her family. Having this outlet eventually proved to be Diem’s saving grace as she ultimately discovered a new form of self-expression - body art.
On this episode, Diem takes us on her journey on how she was able to develop her self-acceptance and self-love over time. The criticism of her family coupled with the constant comparison of other relatives, Diem felt as though as she was not living up to her family’s expectations which resulted in harboring feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness that showed up in all areas of her life.
After suppressing her desire to paint for years, Diem found herself unlocking a new form of expression she had never considered before, tattoos. Seeing as tattoos are taboo in her culture, the likeness of her being chastised by the family was not only probable but anticipated. Though in an astonishing turn of events, the thing that put a divide between Diem and her grandmother ended up being the thing that brought them closer.
[04:05] Diem’s birth and relationship with her own creativity
[12:28] Realizing art has therapeutic benefits
[15:04] Forming a creative identity
[19:21] Being constantly compared and criticized
[25:01] Changes in perception of what an artist is
[27:06] Losing art as a form of expression
[29:12] Struggling with self-worth and self-value
[31:41] Getting into tattoos
[35:01] Rebelling in adult life
[35:53] Painters vs Artists
[39:07] Tattoos becoming an outlet
[42:49] Distilling what body art means at this point in life
[44:26] Gifting a painting to Diem’s grandmother
[50:39] Grandma allowing herself to grow
[55:12] A journey of self-exploration