Van Tran Nguyen is a multi-media artist. She was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 1992 and immigrated to America in 1997. Tran Nguyen holds a BA in Fine Arts and Biology and an MFA from the State University of New York at Buffalo. In 2021, she received a PhD in the Philosophy of Electronic Art at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. She has exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions including Ill at Ease: Dis-ease in Art (2017, University at Buffalo), Shape of a Pocket (2017, Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center), Strange Agency (2017, Buffalo Arts Studio) and, Paris, Orange County (2020, Lycoming College). In 2016, Tran Nguyen and collaborator Natalie Fleming co-curated The Measure of All Things: Rethinking Humanism through Art at the University at Buffalo Department of Art Gallery. In 2017, Tran Nguyen and Fleming premiered their group exhibition Forging American: Art in the Workings of an Asian American Rust Belt at Big Orbit Project Space (CEPA Gallery) in Buffalo, New York. Their third curatorial project, Art Stands Still, exhibited in Troy, NY at Collar Works Gallery in May 2019. She currently lives in Baltimore with her cat, Gordon.
Van Tran Nguyen’s research is centered on nostalgia and identity construction. Her artistic practice interrogates race, gender and class through the mechanism of parody. She is influenced by Vietnamese variety shows and rituals from her diasporic community. Tran Nguyen’s short film, Erie County Smile (2021) is a personal, satirical reflection of growing up in nail salons and watching Paris By Night, a variety show made for the Vietnamese diaspora. This body of work pays homage to children of immigrants who grew up behind doors labeled “EMPLOYEES ONLY”.