Katherine Lam was born in Dallas, Texas in 1994. Being a second generation Vietnamese American meant she grew up seeing the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the emotional toll it took on her parents, which eventually passed down onto her and her older sister. As time went on, she began to dissect past and current complications through her work. She obtained her BFA from the University of North Texas, then received her MFA from Tyler School of Art, at Temple University in Philadelphia in 2019. During her first year of her graduate study, she studied in Rome, Italy, where she worked alongside local curators to exhibit her work. Katherine has participated in several exhibitions such as “Sonar Scan” in Denton TX, “Nasty Women Exhibition: Dallas,” “Barriera,” in Rome, Italy, and “We Will Meet Again,” in Brooklyn, NY. She had her solo exhibition, “War Trap” in 2019, and shortly after completed a residency at Mass Moca, in North Adams, Massachusetts. Katherine currently resides in Bronx, New York.


I find that location plays a major role in my work: depending on where I am situated, my visual subjects change. I take what objects the environment presents to me, and when paired with one another, they construct a narrative that stems from my second-hand experience with the Vietnam War. For instance, blue packaging from shipping containers paired with wood suggests the buoyancy of a boat traveling on water, or the bright orange tip of a pipe suggests the violent nature of my mother’s journey to sea.


The physical appearance, material, and growth of the piece are heavily influenced on the geographical location in which it is made. I often think about how we, as humans, are malleable by our environment. In return, the notion of being able to relocate under free will becomes significant. Travelling to various locations is a means of reassessing what alter ego could have been formed if my family would’ve taken refuge elsewhere. My physical pieces act as the embodiment of this alter ego, the past combined with the present, and the “could have been.” After creating the physical pieces, I made a new body of work through the means of photographing, then creating a collage out of multiple existing pieces. The series would act as a compendium of the explored narratives combined with the experience of the specific geographical location.


Depiction Series

Katherine Lam

Photo collage on sand, wood, plastic tarp, latex paint, spray paint, and plants.