Department of Fine Arts
Tel 519 888-4567 x36923
Diana Tran is a sculptor and illustrator based in Kitchener-Waterloo. Her practice focuses on creating narratives, inspired by her familial past through the usage of figurative tableaus. She uses historical photographs, ephemera and her own personal family photos as points of reference in creating her work. As of recent, she has been especially interested in learning about father’s experience as a Vietnamese boat refugee, and using clay and dioramas to reconstruct those memories.
Carry what You Need incorporates historical references of the Vietnamese boat refugee crisis with biographical elements from my father’s own experiences. Suitcases are very intimate items- not only do they contain personal belongings, but stories as well. Even though these refugees could only carry what they needed (the bare essentials), when they escaped Vietnam, certain emotions and memories could never fully be left behind.The violence of the Vietnamese war left refugees, including my father, with a lot of trauma and “emotional baggage” in which they were forced to carry.
My piece uses a vintage suitcase as a symbol of transience and as a vessel that portrays some of these memories. The focal point is a hand-constructed wooden fishing boat. These types of rickety, old boats were commonly used by Vietnamese refugees when they embarked into new countries. The bottom of the suitcase contains my father’s own immigration papers, his passport, a photograph of when he first settled in Canada, and clothes from that era-which he still wears to this day.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is centralized within our Office of Indigenous Relations.