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Filmmakers and Artists / Curators Corner

Curator's Corner
by Mary Magsamen

Each quarter, Aurora Curator Mary Magsamen highlights an artist from Aurora's diverse membership to showcase their work and introduce you to the Aurora congregation.  This season, we are proud to feature Melissa Tran.

Melissa Tran is a visual artist originating from New Orleans, Lousiana who works with lens-based processes, performance, and interactive installations. She graduated with a MFA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas focusing on interdisciplinary studio arts, and received her BFA from the University of Houston with a major concentration in Photography/Digital Media. Tran's work has been exhibited as part of the Fotofest Biennial (Houston) and shown at spaces including the Blaffer Art Museum, Houston Center for Photography and Dallas Aurora, and screened at DiverseWorks Artspace and in several film festivals. Tran’s work was selected by jury to exhibit in the 2013 Texas Biennial at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas and took part in a larger work through the Dallas Collective commissioned by the Biennial for Ballroom Marfa. Her plans for the future include participating in the Juvenal Reis Studios Fellowship in New York City and sailing in The Arctic Circle's 2015 Summer Solstice Expedition research and residency program in Svalbard in the upcoming year. For more information about Melissa Tran, please visit

I Will Not Use Violence from Melissa Tran on Vimeo.

In “I Will Not Use Violence”, an iconic yellow No. 2 pencil is returned from a state of obliteration to a state of wholeness. Hands are cleansed over time as soot from the lead leaves the hands. The value of the pencil, as highlighted in both the video performance and the accompanying sculptures, is in its use -- inherently causing the eventual destruction of the body of the pencil itself. The pencil, an extinct technology, is encased in a container made to size, like a coffin; in a second coffin, the remains of the shaved pencil is held in part, with the “excess” unable to be contained in its original volume. The clear tops to these containers highlight the objects within in an almost specimen-like manner, keeping them in a state of stasis, as a body on view – dead, but not yet gone.

Check out some of the past artists who have been featured in the Archive for Curator's Corner.

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