Behind the Scenes with artists Trinh Mai and J. Grant Brittain as they worked with one of the veterans in this collaborative project


Trinh Mai and J. Grant Brittain  joined creative forces for A Time to Heal, a “socially engaging project whose mission was to provide war veterans with a space for reflection through art” on exhibit at the Oceanside Museum of Art through October 8.

The subject matter was close to Trinh’s heart, as the majority of this artist’s work draws on personal memories, family roots, and spiritual connections.” As a Vietnamese American whose family suffered the tragedies of the Vietnam War, Trinh felt a personal connection to a project centered on healing. The first half of A Time to Heal comprised a week-long workshop Trinh facilitated, with Armed Forces veterans Rachel Davis, Michelle Vesely, John Wayne, and Christopher Weathers, during which they created mixed media “war wounds,” incorporating letters the participants wrote to themselves on hardship and healing.

See Trinh talk about this workshop in this short video created by our own David and Barbarella Fokos:



After the mixed media workshop, veterans visited Grant’s studio, where the renowned photographer would take their portrait. Trinh then took Grant’s large-scale portraits and embedded the hand-crafted “wounds” using embroidery and other materials.


Cry. Touch. See. Life, 2017. Gouache, holy water, Pacific Ocean water, paper, pressed summer lilac, textile, thread, tree bark, and wool on digital image printed on Arches watercolor paper, 30 ½ x 44”


Included in the show is a piece by Trinh called “Dear Father,” which, among many things, incorporates living plants, rainwater from Vietnam, the subject’s release papers from re-education camp, scripture, and even tears.

Dear Father, 2017, by Trinh Mai


Plant detail of Dear Father, 2017


From These Ashes, 2017. Feathers, holy water, Pacific Ocean water, ink, paper, sea lavender, textile, and wool on digital image printed on Arches watercolor paper, 30 ½ x 44”


This exhibition will be viewable through October 8 at Oceanside Museum of Art.


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