Born and raised in Vietnam, Helen Tran has always been naturally drawn towards creating art as a young girl. Her first watercolour booklet of Disney characters aspired her to paint. She soon later found her passion for the uniqueness of Printmaking. Tran pursue her education in Visual and Creative Arts at Sheridan College, Oakville, Canada and holds a BFA in Printmaking & Publications with a second focus in Photography. She has exhibited her work at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, The Japanese Paper Place, TOAF61 and Visual Arts Mississauga (VAM). Tran currently is working as an archivist assistant and artist member at the Open Studio Contemporary Printmaking Centre in Toronto. Tran is well-versed in many printing techniques; including lithography, relief, silkscreen, and intaglio. Nevertheless, she enjoys working with the versatility of lithography and bookmaking in her spare time. When she is not making prints, she enjoys adventuring outdoors with her 35mm analog film camera, watercolour painting, tapestry and creative writing. She is currently working on several linocut series of botanical imagery, along with cyanotype processes at her home studio.
As a multidisciplinary artist, Tran’s body of work incorporates printmaking methodology with an array of mixed media. She seeks new possibilities in innovative ways to create and present her work ranging from analogue image-making, text art, lithography, and linocut. Tran’s work draws on traditional family ceremonies and funerary rituals that utilize both print media and photography to convey elements of mourning, healing, and ancestral rituals. Tran’s body of work is medium-specific where she experiments and explores materiality in her form of concept, specifically her appreciation for Japanese washi (paper), which further enhances her context of the work.
2023 Recent Work: “ Déjà Vu ” is a photo-lithograph print which depicts chrysanthemum motifs that are archetypal images of ritual offerings and are often used for ceremonies. Tran’s material and aesthetic choices express notions of ephemerality and explore the relationship through her family gatherings of Ngày giỗ, a Vietnamese term for death anniversary. She also strives to present prints that focus on botanical imagery by exploring and experimenting with the interplay of layering chine-collé with various colours, shapes, forms and compositions. Her inspiration comes from nature, animals and childhood memories in a personal narrative through her prints and photos. The notion of simplicity from capturing the aesthetic perception found in nature inspires and awakens her sense of joy. As these sensations influence her work either photographing, creating prints or painting.
Thesis Exhibition Statement
“If Not Here, Then Where?” contextualizes how mourning rituals are constructed within Tran’s culture and identity using motifs of shrines, keepsakes, and ritual offerings. She brings these threads into the conversation by exploring the relationship through family gatherings of "Ngày giỗ", a Vietnamese term for death anniversary. These practices of ancestral ceremonies have been an underlining emphasis throughout her life. Tran's material and aesthetic choices express notions of ephemerality and loss. She combines the materiality of print, photography, and painting into a unified encaustic narrative.
The work depicts four encaustic (beeswax) collage painting that incorporates both printmaking and photography components. Its visual narrative acts as a ritual performance, in sealing and preserving my traditions, and a worship emblem that sums up my work to pay homage to my culture and ancestral practice.