Brandon Tho Harris, Nail Art, Archival Inkjet Print, 16.25 x 10.75, 2020
There is an estimate of 126,300 manicurists and pedicurist in the United States. 74% are of Vietnamese descent. Historically, the nail salon business were dominated by Vietnamese refugees ever since the Vietnam War. The artist recontextualized an ethnographic photograph form the 1900’s portraying the nails of a Vietnamese person with gold leaf and rhinestones. The work examines the tenacity of the Vietnamese refugees strength and resilience.
Brandon Tho Harris is an interdisciplinary artist based in Houston, Texas. His creative practice explores his identity as a child of war refugees. By examining the Vietnamese diaspora in relation to his own family history, he is able to understand and process intergenerational trauma. Harris’ work incorporates self-portraiture, family archives, traditional textiles, and historical images portraying the Vietnam War. Through the use of photography, video, performance and installation, he allows the viewers a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding migration. His work has been featured in exhibitions at Houston Center for Photography and the Blaffer Art Museum. Harris' projects have also been funded by grants from The Idea Fund and Houston Art Alliance.
Harris has chosen to support The Alliance because of their history with aiding refugees in their resettlement here in Houston since 1985. When the artist's family migrated from Vietnam to the United States during the war, an organization similar to The Alliance greatly helped his family get back on their feet. The Alliance provides a range of services and programs for newly-arrived refugees to help them to adjust in their new lives in Houston. Their mission is “To create opportunities for refugees, immigrants, and underserved residents to achieve their goals for self-sufficiency and improve their quality of life”.