Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Qhia Dab Neeg Exhibit: Storytelling by 13 Hmong Artists

Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Qhia Dab Neeg Exhibit: Storytelling by 13 Hmong Artists

Article excerpt

The Midway Commons office building in St. Paul doesn’t look much like an art gallery. But last week, Commons tenant the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council opened its conference room doors to host the opening reception for Qhia Dab Neeg (“Storytelling”), a multidiscipline art show presented by the St. Paul-based arts advocacy group In Progress.

“What we wanted to do is promote Hmong artists and Hmong culture throughout the generations,” said artist Katherina Vang, who curated the show. “So however you express your culture or your ethnicity to you — that’s what we pretty much wanted from the artists. It was up to them to define it, or reveal it. Our [mission] is to promote local Hmong art.”

The exhibition of 20 works by 13 artists runs through February and showcases Hmong artists from Minnesota, California, Indiana and New Zealand. MinnPost took in the opening, in words and photos:

Katherina Vang (aka Kat) goes by her artist pseudonym Maivab, which means “baby” in Hmong. Of her 2015 photograph "Hmong Chinese" she said, “In China, the Hmong people are called the Miao. So, every different country you go to, it’s Hmong-Australian, Hmong-American, and so on. So this is the traditional clothing for Hmong-Chinese. I wanted to combine the Hmong-Chinese, Hmong-Australian, Hmong-Laos, and Hmong-Thailand together and explain how diverse we are, because even within the culture we’re always transitioning and we’re moving and adjusting to the different countries that we migrated to.

“My sister owns Hmong ABC, and she owns a collection of all these Hmong-Chinese dresses, so it was easier for me. I have 18 sisters; my dad got busy with two wives and I consider them all my sisters. My family itself, there are huge stories, but you go outside of that and there are many more stories.”

Tou Yia Xiong is a Hmong illustrator and designer who was born in a Thai refugee camp and grew up in northeast Wisconsin. Of his 2017 digital art piece "Peb Cov Neeg Txawj Sib Pab" he said, “A year ago was Women’s March, and the posters that Shepherd Fairy did, the whole ‘We The People’ series, I saw them and thought they were really cool. …

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