The Fox Valley is home to roughly 4,700 Hmong-Americans, yet few people know much about this ethnic group’s history, traditions, or even why they settled in Wisconsin.
Now you can learn about Hmong culture through art, at no cost, thanks to grants from the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and the Wisconsin Humanities Council.
This week Lawrence University in Appleton kicks off the exhibit, Hmong Contemporary Art & Culture, featuring the work of emerging Hmong-American artists Victoria Kue and Tshab Her, whose works address the complexities of being second-generation women members of this nationless ethnic minority.
The Community Foundation awarded a $1,700 Bright Idea Fund grant to support the exhibit and related programs to increase engagement of Hmong-Americans in cultural experiences as well as the community at large in exploring cultural identity and what it means to belong.
“Identity is already complex, but when your nationality does not have its own country it seems to get a little bit more complicated,” says artist Tshab Her. “As I share stories about my experiences as a Hmong American woman, I want the community to see the complexities of my dual-life and how I am able to navigate between the different worlds.”
“Identity is always in a state of flux,” says artist Victoria Kue. “While the Hmong-American community are preserving its heritage and history, we are also renovating, evolving and creating different valuable narratives. I hope the community will understand that this opportunity at Lawrence University opens the dialogue for Hmong-American Contemporary Art.”
Additional public events will include a book club discussion, a documentary screening, tours of the exhibition, artist talks and workshops, and a special community story-telling event.
The events will encourage discussion and contemplation of the many questions the artworks pose about Hmong culture and identity as well as our shared humanity.