Thursday, November 07, 2013

Contemporary Lao Art: Wat

"Wat" by Lao Minnesotan artist Mali Kouanchao. This is a traditional temple in Phnom Penh where many of the Cambodian deportees gather today in an effort to find harmony and balance in their lives. Trapped between two worlds they have been displaced from.

This is one of the central images of Kounachao's Displacement 2: Never Free project examining the use of ink, art and the body to find entry to worlds that have turned their backs on them.

Forced by civil war to flee Laos when she was five, Mali’s multi-disciplinary works explore the relationship between art, transformation, and communal healing. Her paintings, designs and murals shine a light on the struggles, courage, and complexity of the Asian immigrant experience in the U.S. and work with communities to find strength in memories of home and family.

She is a Minneapolis-based Lao American visual artist, web and interactive designer. Mali has received many awards for her work, including a Bush Artist Fellowship. She serves on the advisory committee for Legacies of War, a national project established to raise awareness of the Secret War in Laos, as well as to advocate for further U.S. support toward the removal of cluster bombs and increased aid for cluster bomb survivors. She is the subject of the new children's book "Mali Under the Night Sky" by Youme Landowne. A graphic designer and muralist, she has shown her work internationally and collaborated with people from many diverse backgrounds and ages. She believes public art should empower the maker and educate and transform the community.

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