VAN THONG LAO
Artist Statement: My drawings are inspired by my culture and my experiences. I like to show people a fraction of myself in all of my work. I am more than where I came from, but that same origin is what makes me, me.
My two pieces in the exhibition play on the duality of the “Generational Resilience” theme. “Offering” conveys the still practiced tradition that connects the current generation to our ancestors. As we pass from life to the after world, Hmong (we) believe that burning joss money as an offering to the newly deceased will prepare them for their long journey back to our ancestors and preserve that generational connection.
The second piece, “Dancing,” on the other hand represents the new way of life I and those like me have cultivated after the many lessons entrusted to us. She represents my mom, niece, grandma, cousins, sisters and all who have been given a predetermined role from birth they are not meant to deviate from. Strong, graceful and full of beauty but behind her are the struggles she has to endure, pressures from the community she must withstand, and expectations she must not break all while not losing who she is.
Artist Bio: I am a self-taught artist. I took one art class in college and didn't think much of it. My professor told me I had something in me and he hope I won't stop. I did for a little while but after the loss of my dad I turned to art. After 10 years of not drawing, I picked up my pencils and drawing broads and begin my journey of healing.