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Foreign workers' painting exhibition to raise awareness

2012/05/06 20:01:26

Taipei, May 6 (CNA) A painting exhibition that captures the lives of foreign workers in Taiwan and their nostalgia for their homeland and families seeks to raise awareness over issues related to foreign workers, organizers said Sunday.

The exhibition, which will run until May 30 in Taipei, showcases some 30 watercolor paintings, oil paintings and pencil drawings by four current and former Vietnamese workers.

With titles such as "The Exiler," "The Money Machine," "Another Mother," "Working Days," "Songs From My Dream" and "Sisters," the paintings portray the jobs, families, homelands, dreams, and plights of foreign workers in Taiwan.

"This is not just a painting exhibition, but a cultural movement," Liu Chin-yuan, an official from the organizing Bao Bon Phuong, a local newspaper targeting foreign workers, told CNA.

"We hope that Taiwanese people can understand that these workers are just like us. They have families back home, and they also yearn to return home and yearn for love," said Liu.

She said the exhibition aims to give voice to the common people. "We want to subvert the idea that art can only be created by professionals," said Liu.

One of the painters, using the name Tran Anh, was a sculptor before coming to Taiwan.

After borrowing money to pay his brokerage fee, Tran was placed in a factory. However, he ran away after failing to change employers after being bullied and discriminated against at work, according to a statement on display at the exhibition.

One day, Tran spotted discarded paint at his new employer's yard and it inspired him to begin painting. Without a paintbrush, Tran applied paint using cotton balls found in the trash to create his first painting in Taiwan.

His works, which attempt to capture the pain and hardships faced by foreign laborers in Taiwan, have inspired many readers of the newspaper, said Liu.

But she added that the last time they were in contact with the painter was in 2009 and since then his whereabouts remain unclear.

The other painters are Le Thi Nga, a former caregiver, and Ma Thi Huong and Tran Thi Dao, who still work in Taiwan as caregivers.

Tran started painting after meeting the elderly man she currently takes care of. The elderly man loves to paint, so Tran would take care of his health and he would teach her how to paint.

The exhibition in Taipei is part of a tour displaying foreign workers' paintings around Taiwan. So far, about 60 paintings by more than ten artists have been displayed in eight cities.

"Since the establishment of Bao Bon Phuong in 2006, we have received over 30,000 submissions of artworks and writings by our readers", said Liu, adding that the exhibition of these artworks will not stop.

Bao Bon Phuong currently publishes newspapers in Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Tagalog and Cambodian.

(By Christie Chen)