The La Salle University Art Museum’s latest exhibition, Howard Tran: Drawings and Sculpture will be on view until Nov. 29, 2012. An artist’s talk will take place on Nov. 29 from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. in Olney Hall, Room 100. The exhibition and all programs are free and open to the public.
The exhibition primarily features Tran’s two-dimensional work. A sculptor by training, Tran also works extensively in two-dimensional media. For Tran, working on a flat surface offers a different way of approaching the art-making process. While his sculptures are always figurative, his drawings are more abstract.
“When Tran begins a sculpture, he already knows how it will look—it has all been planned and decided. Working with acrylic and ink on a flat surface, however, forces him to instead think fast as he works,” said Carmen Vendelin, the La Salle University Art Museum’s Curator of Art. “For Tran, sculpture has a more direct relationship to the Earth; two-dimensional work is more ‘out there,’ approaching the unknown. It is this quality of the unknown both in the process of making and in the subject matter that the artist appreciates.”
While his three-dimensional work is confined by representation, certain motifs in Tran’s drawings can be said to exert their own version of confinement as well. One repeating form is the bean shape, which also morphs into a barbell-like shape in some compositions. Although it changes size, color, and density throughout the series, Tran describes it as having “trouble becoming fluid.”
In the two-dimensional work, as with sculpture, Tran’s interest in texture can be seen. “In the drawings, sanding imparts an almost encaustic-looking layering of color and form,” Vendelin said.
Tran sometimes also glues or transfers Buddhist offering papers onto the surface, adding an element of collage. In his larger-format drawings, Tran incorporates paper pulp, creating a raised surface that makes the work more like a hybrid of flat drawing and relief sculpture. “For Tran, there is a dichotomy between the calm of the paper pulp and the chaos of the paint,” Vendelin said.
Tran states that the layering relates to past, present, and future. In his art, he negotiates issues of identity related to his Chinese-Vietnamese and Buddhist heritage and his experience as an American.
Tran is an assistant professor of art at Lycoming College and exhibits throughout the country. He earned his master’s in fine arts in sculpture from Boston University and bachelor’s in fine arts at the Sculpture Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Calif.
About the La Salle University Art Museum:
The La Salle University Art Museum is located on the lower level of Olney Hall on the campus of La Salle University at 19th St. and Olney Ave. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Art Museum will also be open to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22, and Oct. 20, 2012; from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 13, 2012; and from noon to 3 p.m. on Nov. 10, 2012. Admission is free, though donations are accepted. Please call to schedule group visits. Special tours can be arranged. For further information, call 215.951.1221 or visit the Web site at http://www.lasalle.edu/museum/.