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RICHARD VIBSAWM YANG
Photographer

Artist Statement:  Ideally, I hope my work is indicative of a generation of Hmong children of refugees. I want to leave a legacy of art that touches upon the intersections of gender, sexuality, spirituality, language and above all, challenges other Hmong artists and people of this generation to think more critically of how our identity is constructed. My parents came to this country in 1978 after years in refugee camps and decades prior to that living in an unstable political homeland. In the forty-plus years of settling here in America, I think transplanted and exiled communities such as ourselves epitomize the term resiliency through addressing static notions of tradition, navigating the complexities of more western ideologies, and lastly managing the obvious hardships and adversities of providing for our families and communities.

My work in large is a testimony to the dialogue between the past and present form of ourselves. It does not romanticize going back for that is not really an option, but my images often depict nostalgic qualities within contemporary backdrops and settings. It is my hope that my generation will see themselves in my work and others will relate to them through their own similar experiences.

Artist Bio:  My work is largely a multi-disciplinary practice that critically addresses the construction and evolution of identity over time and space. In 2009, I completed my MFA from the Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity & Nation (TrAIN) through University of Arts London whereas my research and practice explored Hmong crafts and their historical significance to preserving culture and (re)constructing identity in times of conflict and diaspora. Moving back to Minnesota during the recession thereafter was a difficult time especially for artists, yet I participated in a fellowship for emerging Minnesotan Asian American artists and have managed to showcase some work at local venues. From 2016 through 2018, I was also selected to be a part of three cycles of Hennepin Theatre Trust’s 'MadeHere' Initiative with storefront installations. All in all, the purpose of much of my work is to show value in representation and continuously question how identity is constructed and viewed.

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