The four photographs I have selected for the SOLIDARITY STREET GALLERY 2023 exhibition portray the lives of Hmong Vietnam War Veterans residing in Minnesota. The Hmong people are one of many ethnic groups representing the FACES OF OUR COMMUNITIES in Minnesota who have been affected by historical events that triggered life-changing circumstances.
As a photographer, I find engaging with Hmong Vietnam War veterans meaningful, as it was a pivotal moment that caused the relocation of our people to the United States. The Vietnam War's history has also allowed me to comprehend my parents' experiences and how the war impacted their lives, where they endured lasting emotional and physical scars. My photographs highlight my people, who bravely fought alongside American soldiers during the Vietnam War. And because of their sacrifice, their experience reflects my identity as a child of the Vietnam War.
I hope my photographs inspire you to explore your family's history and contribution to this country. Preserving our heritage and culture by using photography and storytelling to teach future generations about the past is essential.
Shia Yang has had a passion for creating visual art from a young age. As a child, he frequently used his family's aged digital camcorder to capture short videos and photos of his siblings. While in college, he worked as a photographer and graphic designer for a local newspaper. One of his responsibilities was photographing public events using an early version of a 2-megapixel digital camera. Shia discovered his passion for photographing people and the Hmong culture as a contributor to the Hmong Times Newspaper. Throughout his career, working for the Hmong Times and the Hmong Pages Newspapers, he contributed his photographs to many articles by local authors. Several of his pieces were also featured by the Minnesota Historical Society in its 2015 exhibit "WE ARE HMONG," commemorating the 40th year of Hmong in Minnesota.
Shia’s preferred tool is a digital rangefinder camera. It allows him to anticipate that perfect fleeting moment when shooting portraits, creating documentary pieces, or capturing special occasions. Shia participated in the annual Solidarity Street Gallery in 2022, centered on the theme of 'Resilient Generations.’ In December 2022, he had a solo exhibition of 24 portraits highlighting the Hmong American culture in Minnesota. The show took place at the Minneapolis Northeast Library.