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home : arts : arts Friday, October 20, 2017

1/11/2017 3:55:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Jackie Vang - Artist

By Amy Doeun

Murals at Eastside Freedom Library
The Vietnam War interrupted Jackie Vang's childhood. But it was this tragic turn of events that gave him a career. "I grew up during the war and I like to draw and paint and play. My homeland was in the front lines. I tried to catch the image in my mind."

In 1982 he began working with artists in Thailand, honing his skills and bringing his images to life. For the past 10 years he has been living in Minnesota and bringing this love of art and homeland to the Twin Cities art community. On the wall of his studio in the White Dragon Hall on White Bear Avenue, he has a mural depicting the life of his people before the wall, how it "revolved around nature and people."

This mural is mostly inspiration for him, but his work also appears around the Twin Cities including Hmong Village and party halls.

He recently completed a large mural depicting different stages of Minnesota History at the Eastside Freedom Library in St. Paul. The mural is painted on the stairway. As you descend down the stairway, you follow the history of Minnesota's people from Native American to European and African American settlers and the immigrant groups of the 20th century including, of course, the Hmong. He said, "The ideas and images came from gathering stories to combine together." He worked closely with Peter Rachleff, Co-Executive Director of the Freedom Library.

Rachleff said that he was familiar with Vang's work and had seen it at the Adult Learning Center in Roseville and Hmong Village in St. Paul. Rachleff said, "I arranged meetings with Vang to meet with groups of people - Native Americans, Latinos, Karen. It was a great process. In some cases they even brought images with them and narratives." Vang then used these images to create a sort of timeline of Minnesota history through its people.

Vang said, "My main goal in art is to bring Hmong traditional life and history and landscape together."

Most of his work is on a commission basis. In addition to drawing and painting he does 3D and 2D design as well as sculpture.

He will be a featured artist with the Hmong Chamber's show in March.

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