Richland professor Wayne Loucas, who teaches photography at Richland, returned from sabbatical to Vietnam in the summer of 2018. He shared his work with the public in an exhibit at the Brazos Gallery on campus. A reception was held in his honor on May 3.
“It was part of a Fulbright group project. There were 12 of us,” Loucas said. When asked why he volunteered for the program, he said, “Truth told, to take pictures of course. And also to experience the culture. We have a lot of Vietnamese students [at Richland] and to apply the immersion of doing this in that we can serve students even better by getting to know their culture.”
Loucas greeted guests and discussed his work while the guests enjoyed avocado and chicken sandwich wraps and bottled water. Students from the Richland music department played light pop-music covers that ranged from Radiohead’s “Creep” to Nirvana’s “Come as You Are” while faculty and students gathered and socialized.
Loucas visited Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho. His photographs showcased his travels throughout the country.
“It’s amazing that there is a street in Hanoi where the train goes through,” he said describing photos of a train passing through a narrow part of Vietnam’s capital. “It’s astounding. It’s only some sections of the city where it’s really that narrow.”
An international student from Vietnam interjected, “I don’t see why they would still live so close to the tracks.” Loucas responded, “Because they have to. Because they have gotten so used to it. They know when the train is coming.”
Loucas is one of the dozen Richland instructors who traveled to Vietnam and will present their work to the public.
“He’s captured a nice genre of old and new,” Charles Coldewey, the Brazos Gallery coordinator, said. “He’s got some moderate things going on with these, like the posters with the elections over there and stuff like that. He’s got students taking selfies.”
“It really brings back a lot of memories plus a lot of it looks almost identical to where I was,” said USAF Vietnam veteran and Richland photography professor Roy Cirigliana. He was stationed in Thailand during the majority of the war. “Most of us didn’t realize that we had two or three other wars going on simultaneously.”
Cirigliana worked with Loucas at Richland for 30 years in the art department. He started in 1977 and retired in 2011. Cirigliana just teaches lab now, two days a week.
“I was actually an explosive technician, but my hobby was photography and they needed a teacher over there so that’s where I started teaching. So I would take my camera out on missions,” Cirigliana said. “That’s where I cut my teeth. I came back. I had all these photographs. Won all these awards and they said, ‘you need to be a photographer.’ So I got out and I’ve been working on this stuff that I’ve shot over there for 50 years.”
Cirigliana said that he has his own portraits from the war that he uses as references. He spent a year and a half in Vietnam and was deployed twice.
“I used to shoot a lot of kids,” Cirigliana said about his photography. He said that if and when he goes back to Thailand he would like to track down the children he snapped photos of who would be in their 50s and 60s by now.
“I’d go out into the villages and I would learn the language,” Cirigliana said about his time in Thailand. He earned three college credits for learning Thai at the University of Bangkok. “When I came back, I figure six years later, I was a student and a teacher at Richland at the same time and they gave me my language credits.”
The exhibit is on view through June 7.