Nominated by UIC
My work demonstrates and complicates the politics of displacement through my experience as a first generation Hmong-American. As an ethnic minority from Southeast Asia with no homeland, I have a desire to be heard and to be valued. I fear cultural extinction, so I create work that reveals the diaspora of the Hmong, questioning the roles of site and place, and instead looking in-between. I emphasize ephemerality as part of identity. This work is part of the larger question of what it means to belong, and how I join the conversation about the history of political refugeeism in America.
My work engages political and cultural space through installation, site specificity, and social practice. With a background in painting, I use color as a dialogue–a tool for bringing attention to space, claiming space and recognizing how spaces are claimed. Hmong textile is vital in my work. It presents a call to the body, and serves as a surrogate for the Hmong body. I interpret the question of ownership, whether land or body, through the use of material placement and color mixtures. Art is a form that allows me to position my body and other bodies in relation to the Hmong diaspora, and to investigate the nuanced spaces between visibility and invisibility.
Image: Nam Hab Kuv / Mom and Me (fabric, wood, simp belting), 2015