An Art Exhibit Through the Lens of Bananas


Ms. Nguyen at her exhibit

Hidden deep on the seventh floor of a building in Chelsea, is the art gallery Crush Curatorial, founded by Karen Flatow, featuring the works of emerging artists. Currently, it is featuring the exhibit One Blue Eye, Two Servings by Nicole Maloof and Berkeley Carroll’s own, art teacher and artist Tammy Nguyen. One Blue Eye, Two Servings uses bananas as a lens to explore color, visual perception, and colonialism, specifically in Southeast Asia.

After school on Wednesday, November 7th, Ms. Nguyen took a group of Berkeley Carroll students to Crush Curatorial to see her exhibit. Upon entering the gallery, I was greeted by Maloof’s video, What Color is a Banana?, which leads to a smaller room with Maloof’s etchings and Ms. Nguyen’s paintings. They are unlike anything I have ever seen. I was immediately struck by her clever and careful use of color. But I was even more surprised when she talked to us about her art, revealing that every piece was watercolor done on paper.

Berkeley Carroll students and Ms. Nguyen at the One Blue Eye, Two Servings exhibit

During her talk with the students, I asked her how she manages to be a full-time teacher and artist. She revealed that her life as a teacher has actually helped to inspire her. The idea for this project initially came to her during the cannibalism spring intensive she taught with Dr. Hughes and Charlotte L. ’18. They talked about Polyphemus, the cyclops in book nine of The Odyssey, and Ms. Nguyen drew a connection between the trick Odysseus plays on the cyclops and colonialism in Southeast Asia, hence her usage of cyclops and the appearance of the word “nobody.” She spent a lot of time planning and sketching before she started painting. Remarkably, she says, “These paintings are really quick to make. They take a day—two max.” This is all part of her artistic method so her vision stays fresh and is not overworked.

Painting by Ms. Nguyen

One Blue Eye, Two Servings is an immersive and thought-provoking exhibit that showcases the ingenuity and hard work of Maloof and Ms. Nguyen. It makes us question our own visual system and colonialism all through the lens of bananas (if that isn’t already quirky enough).

The One Blue Eye, Two Servings exhibit is open through November 10th and is open to all. You don’t want to miss it!