November 1965: Thái Hà’s Second Liberty Classes in the Mekong Delta

In 1962, Thái Hà went to study at Central Nguyễn Ái Quốc Party School – a political institution teaching key communist Party members – and was commissioned to journey south along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. His name was changed from Nguyễn Như Huân to Thái Hà (taken from his two children) in order to maintain secrecy.

Hà was in charge of managing the Liberty Arts Department that included artists Phương Đông, Trang Phượng, and Nguyễn Thanh Châu. In 1964, he set up a liberty art class in Bến Tre – a province in the Mekong Delta, close to the Cambodian border.

Figure 1: Thái Hà, 1965, Bến Tre Province. “Bến Tre; 1965; Chị Hai Khoa (Bến Tre Province; 1965; Ms. Hai Khoa).” Ink and crayon on machine made paper.
Figure 2: Thái Hà, 1965, Bến Tre Province.” 9. BT 65; Bộ Đội ĐF Quân Chi Hội (BT 65; The Team Leaving the Army Branch) (from note 9 accompanying the art work, handwritten by the artist)).” Ink and crayon on machine-made paper.

In 1965, Hà established his second liberty class in Cần Thơ, where he was able to sketch and paint the local population (fig. 1), soldiers (fig. 2) and guerrillas based in Bến Tre Province. While there, he and his students held a short exhibition at Phụng Hiệp Commune, the aim of which was to create propaganda for the war. The exhibition lasted for only one night as the South Vietnamese authorities shut it down.

Towards the end of 1966, he established the third liberty class in Cà Mau Province.

Figure 3: Thái Hà, 1965, Cà MauProvince, “Nữ du kích; Cà Mau; 1965 (Guerrilla Woman; Cà Mau Province; 1965).” Watercolour on machine-made paper.

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