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Winnie Truong - Invisible/Visible

Wednesday, 26 November 2014 16:00

You know those 3D posters you see at the mall, where you kind of have to squint the right way and if you’re lucky, suddenly you’ll see a dolphin or a unicorn? Well, Winnie Truong is an artist who’s really interested in the idea of an invisible picture becoming suddenly visible, though her method is much more hands-on than those 3D posters.  Her aptly named Invisible/Visible exhibition is on now at Erin Stump Projects (that’s in the Dundas/Dufferin area), and it has an interactive element that plays with your vision and makes seeing her work really dynamic.

Truong makes large-scale stunning drawings that you’ll have trouble believing were done just with pencil crayons.

[images: at top: Equidistant, 2014; above: Circuit Sisters, 2014]

In the past, they’ve usually depicted incredibly detailed and sometimes creepy images of people being consumed by their own hair, whether it’s elaborate luxurious braids or ever-growing beards. Every hair is rendered individually with the crayons, and the result is something a bit surreal and pretty exquisite.

[images: Beekeeper, 2013; Folie A Deux, 2013]

But in this show, she’s trying something new – her images shift depending on what you use to look at them. So when you walk into the gallery, you’ll see little piles of slides – some red, some blue – sitting on a table near the door. You grab one of each and start looking at Truong’s drawings, and you hold each of the slides in front of your eyes. And what you’ll see is that the tinted slide cancels out parts of the drawing and makes a very different image suddenly appear.

Here’s some video that’ll show you how it works:


[Video by: Zeynep Sen,]

So there are three images here – the one you see without any help, and then the two versions that depend on which colour slide you’re looking through. I talked to Truong at the gallery about her inspiration, how she wields her pencil crayons, and why her drawings work even if you don’t use the slides to look at them:

All optics aside, the truly fascinating part of Truong’s work is the obsession she’s always had with hair. The hair on her figures in this show is a little less Rip van Winkle and more abstract or even floral than in the past, but it’s still the overwhelming motif in her images. And as an Asian-Canadian artist, Trong has a personal perspective on hair that drives her to make it ornate and overgrown. She explained a little of it to me.

This is a super engaging show to spend some real time at, playing with the images. At the opening I noticed a lot of kids having fun with the slides, though I’ll offer a very light warning that some of Truong’s images may be a bit eerie for some children. But the kids I saw were delighted, and it’s an unusual chance to get up close with some art that will challenge your vision. Trong’s show Invisible/Visible is at Erin Stump Projects until December 20th. And it’s free! Find out more at And you can see more of Winnie Truong’s work at

By the way, I’ve been delighted to hear from you with your suggestions and stories. Please keep them coming! You can write to me at – and I’ll make it out to all the community and arts events I can!


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