Egbert Vongmalaithong, born 1990, is a performance artist and sculptor who lives and works in Richmond, VA. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Sculpture and Extended Media Program in 2012. Right after graduating, he joined a modern dance company under the direction of Starr Foster. His practice in movement challenges the physical limits of the human body and aims to recontextualize familiar gestures into oddball existences.
What have you been up to since graduating from VCU?
I’ve been resting well after buying a memory foam mattress, and I’m working on cultivating a balanced skincare routine. I’ve also joined a modern dance company in Richmond right after graduating, and I work at Need Supply Co. When I’m not dancing or working at Need Supply Co, I like to take long walks or write in my notebook. I recently wrote a poem about my roommate looking out into our backyard and observing the chickens, which then became a part of a larger play I was working on to perform later.
How do you define success?
Success is a really vague idea that can’t exist without failing. Perhaps it’s a moment of clarity, or the process of healing, or learning how to be courageous, or learning how to be quiet, or maybe it’s the last teaspoon of fish sauce in the stew you’re making. Whatever “success” is, it’s really layered.
How did VCU prepare you for your current situation?
One of my favorite classes was with Nancy Lupo, the Fountainhead Fellow at the time. She had us read Paul Thek’s teaching notes, which is this brilliant list of questions and directives ranging from very basic to wildly complex. Google them! The student is challenged to introspect and creatively problem solve each case they are confronted with. “Redesign a rainbow” “What is capitalism?” “What is waste?” I try to apply this kind of questioning as a way to navigate and to stay active and observant in the world.
What advice would you give a current VCU Sculpture student?
Over time, failure will give you perspective. Question everything. Take some gender studies classes, and hold on to your notes. If possible, find a community outside of school.