Artist Statement: Inspired by my piece, “Hmask Up,” and Hmong dancers during the pandemic, I put together this small collection. The four smaller pieces are encapsulations of Hmong clothing derived from former dance students of mine from when I used to teach dance. I hope my collection reminds us that Hmong dancers are some of the many resilient, cultural preservers within the Hmong community. I believe dancers, mostly comprised of young Hmong girls and women, have challenged traditions and redefined what Hmong dancing can mean and look like for us. And all of this while also navigating [and fusing] both Hmong and American cultures and identities. Exciting as it is for dance activities to have continued in 2022, it is incredibly important to remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is still going on as well, so stay safe and take care by [h]masking up, washing your hands, social distancing, and getting vaccinated if you can.
Artist Bio: Savanna Thao (she/they) is a Hmong, self-taught artist born and raised in Oklahoma‒now residing in Minnesota. Throughout her life, she has had various creative outlets, such as drawing, dancing, painting, baking, sewing, and more because she believes there should be no limits to oneself when it comes to art and expression. Whether creating or witnessing art, art has been a useful tool that has helped her process the world within and around her. One of her latest pieces, “Hmask Up,” is featured in Hmong Museum’s 2022 Digital Zine: “Hmong American Pandemic Experience,” as well as Twin Cities JACL’s 2022 Connections Exhibition alongside another piece titled, “Locked.” Recently, Savanna has grown a deep admiration for Hmong clothing, paj ntaub (sewing/embroidery), and textiles, and hopes to explore ways to connect their histories and meanings to her own journey as
a Hmong person and artist.