FUSE Hosts Local Southeast Asian Artist Exhibit

By Amy Doeun

On April 26th ALOUD: Our Voices. Our Stories. Our Space, a multi artist exhibit featuring Southeast Asian Artists, will open its doors to the public. Katie Ka Vang said, “The exhibit is part of Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA) pilot program to build some kind of sustainability for artists by developing an Artist Residency program where artists are supported to do their work while they are in residence in our corridor, Little Mekong.”

Christina Vang curated the show. She described the process of selecting the artists for the show, “After a decade in the creative field, I’ve gotten familiar with the challenges of navigating spaces and systems that aren’t built for people of color. There was a definite shift in role from artist to curator.” But Vang said that it helped support her, “growth in community advocacy work and aim to create space and opportunity for members of her community whenever possible.”

The local Southeast Asian artist community is vibrant and interlinked. “I reached out to members of the Southeast Asian arts community that I’ve built relationships with over the past two years since moving to Minneapolis from Chicago. These artists were considered based on their personal narratives so the themes and genres are broad.”

ALOUD: Our Voices. Our Stories. Our Space was inspired by the homonym allowed. Vang explained, “The words sound the exact same but take on very different meanings – implying the need for permission or approval.”

In ALOUD the focus is artwork that, “challenge permissibility and to overcome personal, societal and cultural restraints by telling their individual truths through visual concepts… people will witness work about identity, culture, relationships, transformation, and healing.”

She added, “The work and narratives are beautiful. But more importantly, for first and second generation Asian Americans there’s a lot to be reconciled with our cross-cultural experiences and existing in-between. Our experiences and identities are a phenomena stemming from our refugee and immigrant families. It’s important that our narratives are told and witnessed by members of our own community.”

The process of picking artists is not always easy. “This is my first time curating a show so I relied heavily on my intuition. It was also challenging to select just a few artists because there’s such a large pool of talent here in the Twin Cities. The six artists are Anisha Yang, Nicollazzi Xiong, Pa Na Lor, Peter Phung, Tori Hong, and Xee Reiter.”

Vang described several of the artists.

“Xee Reiter is a Hmong American artist who is self-taught and specializes in watercolor, pen and ink illustrations. For ALOUD, she is layering ink, paint and embroidery to create beautifully haunting portraits of Asian women. The work is a celebration of our bodies and imperfections.

“Peter Phung is a creative powerhouse who works in photography, beauty, fashion, and experiential design. For ALOUD, he will be transforming the FUSE art space with light projection and sculptural headpieces that draw inspiration from the beautiful ornament of Asian culture.

“Tori Hong is a queer, second generation Hmong and Korean American who identifies with pronouns they/them/their. They create art to lift marginalized communities in the struggle for social justice and liberation. Hong’s work for ALOUD is as much about self-love and identity as it is about the love for the communities that they represent. They will be displaying a new series of drawings that are comic book style.”

ALOUD will be included in the St. Paul Art Crawl (April 27-29) or by appointment Monday through Friday. Weekend hours are 11:00am-1:00pm. The exhibit will close on June 3.

FUSE is located at 422 University Ave W, Suite 14, St. Paul, MN 55103.

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