Harris honors Vietnamese legacy at Arts & Resilience

By Roman Petrowski, Office of Communications
December 9, 2021

The McGovern Medical School Center for Humanities and Ethics welcomed Brandon Tho Harris to present the second installment of the Arts & Resilience Program, Nov. 10, via Cisco Webex.

A Houston-area native, Harris is a child of war refugees from Vietnam, an identity which is prevalent throughout his work. He studied the displacement of the Vietnamese people in relation to his own family’s history and combines his family history with historic events from the past to create a better understanding of the complexities that surround migration and the traumas associated with it.

Harris shared numerous works of his art, including his videos “Trần Phan,” “and how to live till mourning,” “2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin,” “Nước, Water, (Home)land,” and “Spaces of Home,” in which Harris uses satellite images to explore his mother’s town in Vietnam, while she tells stories of memories of her childhood. Harris used this example to encourage viewers of the Arts & Resilience program to create their own projects.

Harris shared photos of his project Mẹ Việt Nam ơi, Chúng Con Vẫn Còn đây (Oh Mother Vietnam, We Are Still Here), in which he reconstructed a wooden boat created from materials found at various locations and designed to resemble boats taken by his family and other refugees leaving their home countries. The project shows the resilience of Vietnamese refugees who escaped to the United States after the fall of Saigon in 1975.

Harris received his bachelor’s degree in photography and digital media from the University of Houston, and he is currently the manager of engagement and communications at FotoFest, a Houston-based contemporary arts organization which hosts over 450 artists and 150 art and photography festivals in a city-wide, biennial project. His art has been featured at the Blaffer Art Museum (2019), the Houston Center for Photography (2020) and the Asia Society Texas (2021).

The next installment of the Arts & resilience series features Patrick McGrath Muñiz, a Houston-based artist from Puerto Rico, working primarily with oil paintings on canvas and retablos. Muñiz will present, Jan. 26 on Cisco Webex. To register for the event, visit the McGovern Center’s website.