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Van Tran Nguyen

Van Tran Nguyen

Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

(301) 405-6682

2816 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
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Van Tran Nguyen is a multimedia artist. Tran Nguyen holds a B.A. in fine arts and biology and an M.F.A. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. In 2021 she earned her doctorate in the Philosophy of Electronic Art at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute located in Troy, New York. Tran Nguyen 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. Tran Nguyen is currently the 2021 Windgate Artist Residency Fellow at SUNY Purchase.  

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 recent video project, 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.” Erie County Smile (2021) has been broadcasted on PBS and exhibited internationally.


  • Ph.D. in electronic arts, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • M.F.A. in studio art, University at Buffalo
  • B.A./B.S. in visual studies and biology University at Buffalo

Research Expertise:

  • New Media
  • Film and Media Theory
  • Diaspora Studies 
  • Critical theories of race, representation of race in media, and theories of coloniality and decoloniality

Areas of Specialization: 

  • New Media and Emergent Technologies
  • Diaspora Studies
  • Visual Arts Studio Practices

Representative Publications

  • 2022, Frame to Focus: Vietnamese American Women Artists. Guest editors: Anh-Hoa Thi Nguyen and Anne Ngan Nguyen (forthcoming) 
  • 2019, ArtLeaks Gazette #5: Patriarchy Over & Out: Discourse Made Manifest. Edited by Corina L. Apostol 

Representative Public Lectures and Interviews

Representative Work