Monday, January 19, 2015

Refuge of the InvisibLao closes on Saturday, January 24th

This is the last week to come celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Lao Diaspora this January by attending the storytelling art and photography exhibit at the Vine Gallery entitled: “Refuge of the InvisibLao: A Visual Essay.”

This is one of the first events of its kind in the country to examine the 40th anniversary of the Lao American diaspora in our own words, on our own terms. It's been strongly recommended to see this exhibition which challenges our expectations of what can and should be said by our community as we examine the diaspora after four decades.

Several of my poems are on exhibit there, as well as photos from my personal collections. These include my poems "Jaew," "Commodities," "Leuk Lao," and "At Home."The exhibit has already been seen by hundreds of community members, public officials, advocates, scholars, and those interested in immigrant stories from Laos and Southeast Asia. Minnesota is home to the third largest Lao American refugee community in the United States, with over 12,000 Laotians and 60,000 Hmong.

The exhibit features the work of acclaimed neo-expressionist Chicago-based artist Chanthala Kommanivanh and past and present portraits of Lao American journeys that were collected by LLOTP Founding Editor, Chanida Phaengdara Potter, sculpture by Christopher Khounbanam, poetry by Saymoukda Vongsay and other artists.

They're asking many profound questions during this exhibit:
What is your dream after a tumultuous past? After the Laotian Civil War during the Vietnam War era, thousands of Southeast Asians emigrated to the United States, Australia, France and other countries. Thousands more followed as students, merchants, and to simply start new lives. How have the years changed our sense of who we are, who we have been, and who we can be?
Stories of displacement, isolation, identity crisis, reflection, hope and happiness are some of the themes that encompass the depth of the path to an American Dream for the Lao Diaspora. Originals and prints of artwork will be available for sale. Many have already been claimed by avid collectors.

During this time, Little Laos on the Prairie will launch its 2015 #BeLaod campaign to promote historically invisible stories of Lao American journeys in the United States.

All proceeds goes to The Lao Diaspora Project and their collaborators to continue their work. The exhibition ends January 24, 2015. The Vine Arts Center is located at 2637 27th Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

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