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Yen Ha

Fragmented Moments of Drawing


Yen is an architect, artist and writer. Born in Saigon, she lives in New York City, where she co- founded Front Studio, an architecture firm. Fluent in French and Vietnamese, she holds an architectural degree from Carnegie Mellon University, followed by post-graduate work at L’École d’Architecture in Paris. Her short stories were finalists in Glimmertrain’s New Writers Contests and the New Rivers Press American Prize, and appear in Waxwing, Crack the Spine and Hypertext. Yen has been awarded residencies by the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, MASS MoCA and L’AiR Arts. A selection of her drawings are available through 20×200 and Goods for the Study. She is a current artist-in-residence with the Trestle Art Space.

The passage of time in drawing can be experienced as a layering of moments, one stroke upon another, until reaching a completed state. In this work I explore the passage of time as fragmented moments of drawing, assembled to create a body of work which is then physically disseminated into the world as separate parts. Without any guarantee that the works reach their intended destination, the act of mailing the drawings can result in the stretching of time as each piece relies on domestic and international postal systems to arrive, or not arrive, remaining suspended in time indefinitely. The recipients, often unknown to one another, become part of a community of works, each holding a fragment of creation. The pieces themselves take advantage of mistakes in ink flow or accidental markings. The drawings touch the edges of the canvas, as if to reach out to its fellow neighbors, despite each piece being distinct from one another. Stemming from the serendipity of chance marks and working in stolen moments of time, the works express a sense of community by connecting strangers through art.

Hi my name is Yen Ha. I’m an artist practicing in New York City and the work I’m presenting today is called Fragmented Moments of Drawing. The passage of time in drawing can be experienced as a layering of moments, one stroke upon another, until reaching a completed state. In this work I explore the passage of time as fragmented moments of drawing, assembled to create a body of work which is then physically disseminated into the world as separate parts. Without any guarantee that the works reach their intended destination, the act of mailing the drawings can result in the stretching of time as each piece relies on domestic and international postal systems to arrive, or not arrive, thus remaining suspended in time indefinitely. The recipients, often unknown to one another, become part of a community of works, each holding a fragment of creation. The pieces themselves take advantage of mistakes in ink flow or accidental markings.

The pen moves throughout the page without hesitation because there is no wrong or right way to draw. The drawings can touch the edges of the canvas, as if to reach out to its fellow neighbors, despite each piece being distinct from one another. Stemming from the serendipity of chance marks and working in stolen moments of time, the works express a sense of community by connecting strangers through art. Working through this type of fragmented manner of drawing provides a space of freedom for experimentation. Coupled with the serendipity of stray marks or ink blots, the pieces take on various forms from landscapes to floral compositions. The inconsistency of the paint pens means they do occasionally explode, which, in addition, to not wanting to waste the split ink, becomes a genesis point for a new drawing. Or in this case, series of drawings. Each accidental moment becoming something new. I often draw in scattered bits of time, a handful of gestures here, a dozen strokes there.

Sometimes I might stop and react to something else that is happening in my world. These two drawings are the continuation of an exploration into hard and implied edges, directly related to work I made for the Black Lives Matter movement. Working in fractured bits of time throughout the day means that when I can sit down to draw I have the opportunity to capture the mood of the moment whether it’s the the smooth fluidity of lines pulled to one another or the point counterpoint of a stipple. When I’m ready to send out the cards, I turn them over before addressing them. Which means that I don’t even know which recipient will receive which card. To date I have sent 85 cards. I have received 47 confirmations that they have arrived at their intended destinations.

On average it took 28 days for a card to arrive, though this card to London took 15 while this card to Burlington 29. Lyon 44 days. Miami 47 days. In New York City it took 28 days to travel 7 blocks up Broadway and 49 to travel another 17.


ESTE TRABALHO É FINANCIADO POR FUNDOS NACIONAIS ATRAVÉS DA FCT – FUNDAÇÃO PARA A CIÊNCIA E A TECNOLOGIA, I.P., NO ÂMBITO DO PROJETO “UIDB/04042/2020”