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COUA LEE
Sand Artist

Artist Statement:  As a sand artist, my passion is to tell stories through the imagination. Sand art tells stories through the imagination. My work illuminates stories of the shared pain, experiences and hope within the Hmong community to promote healing in a challenging and hurting world. Sand art reiterates the culture of folklores and creates a space to reflect and celebrate our Hmong identity.  My hope is that my people can find healing in sharing our stories about where we have been and where we are going. Through sand art, we can come together in a safe and stress-free environment where we strive towards wellness. The story of sand art is a simple, yet powerful truth: when we heal together, we are stronger.

 

To me, being resilient is not just being flexible. It's about being rooted where we are. It's about doing our part in this ever-changing world, teaching traditions to the future generations and never forgetting who we are or where we come from. We can be resilient to whatever comes our way if we heal together as a community.

Artist Bio:  When I first learned of sand art in my undergraduate class, I was completely amazed and awestruck. I told myself that I was going to be a sand artist one day, but I had no idea how to do that. I first practices sand art in my laundry room, using farm dirt, a Tupperware lid, and a dim, broken lamp. I followed YouTube videos and taught myself how to paint. It didn’t matter how cheap my materials were, I knew I was doing something magnificent in that place.

In 2015, I received the McKnight foundation fund through the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and was able to financially jumpstart my art business. This opportunity allowed me to go beyond art in the church and artistically engage with the public. In June of 2016, I debuted my work at the Mekong Night Market. It was an amazing experience learning how to tell stories with other people. What was originally an art hobby for myself became something larger that the Hmong community can be a part of.

What I am doing is bigger than me and bigger than the little things I had planned. With little man-power and financial resources, I persevered to do my best in sharing sand art. My work in sand art is driven by my faith, my battle with cultural displacement and identity-making and my passion to seek healing and peace as a therapist in training. I feel sand art is too powerful to be something of entertainment for viewers. My passion is to use my art to respond to the chaos in the world around me. Much of my work addresses difficult topics, such as faith, equity and equality, depression and anxiety, cultural identity, physical illness, social reconciliation and war-fare, such as the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Sand art is a powerful amplifier in bringing these out to the world and challenging people to identify their truths.

Coua Lee will be doing live sand painting demonstrations, and show a motion picture short,

at the Old Swedish Bank Building:

To learn more about Coua Lee's work, please see:

  • YouTube

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