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Painting with Soul: An Interview with Loy Khambay-Correa

Today at Little Laos on the Prairie we interview Loy Khambay-Correa, one of the new voices we met during this year’s National Lao American Writers Summit. Her work was among the pieces exhibited at Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park, California.

Born Kheuthmy Khambay, her name meant “Grow Rich Gold Leaf.” Over the years her close family and friends began calling her Loy, which either means “slip away” or “swim.” She was born in a small village in Savannakhet, Laos. Her formative years were spent in Saint Louis, MO and Saint Petersburg, FL.


She developed her love for art watching her uncle Thai Khambay draw when she was a little girl. “I was inspired and mesmerized by his drawings, by the age of 8, I started to draw with him,” she says. She attributes much of her success these days to the tough love her parents gave her, giving her the strength, determination and blessings that drove her to excel.

She received her degrees in Commercial Arts along with a Film & Video Production degree from Full Sail University. Soon after she graduated from Full Sail, she moved to Los Angeles, CA. She had an internship with Women In Film and than worked on various projects. In that world, she went from working in post-production, production, and than pre-production.


Today, she only work on projects that she feels that it is worthy to her. If it is going to a good cause or if it is her seed that she is planting. Through all of that process, she found her love and that was returning back to her art.

In 2007, she decided to come out of hiding to reveal her artistic talent to her family and friends. She held her first and solo art show called the Ah-Loy Show. With that success, she plans on having a show every year along with a new theme to showcase her vision.

Can you tell us a little about yourself, and how did you develop an interest in art? What’s a part of your family’s story in coming to America that lingers with you the most?

I admired my uncle’s artwork, but he put down what he was good in naturally. I told myself that I will not leave here not being able to share my passion with the world. I get it that not everyone is going to be a fan of my art and that’s ok. The typical speech. “Graduate from school, go to college and be a doctor or lawyer.” I was never a fan of school and going to school to become a doctor or lawyer is not my cup of tea. The unknown of what really happened, I’ve only heard stories of him and what happened. It affected me a lot especially my teenage years. Today I am content with the situation.


What was it like growing up? And what are some of the ways you feel it affects your approach to creating art and being a part of the community?

I never felt like I ever fit in with anyone. Even though I am a loner at heart, it used to bother me and thought that something was wrong that I didn’t really fit in. I am over that now, I have become myself and who I am today. I am no longer afraid of showing my art and my family who didn’t use to understand my passion are understanding. I think that the community are starting to see more of my work.

What’s your least favorite trend in modern art these days?

A living art, I do not understand it. I don’t think it is art when a person or animal is just sitting there or standing. It makes me feel awkward to stare or it’s just cruel on animals.


What’s a skill you picked up which was unexpectedly useful in your art?

I started off art with pencil and charcoal, drawing faces. I love to blend and you can it in my paint strokes and blending of colors. It gives me my own style.

What inspires your art?

My art is Feng Shui inspired, each of the pieces is to demonstrate how a piece of art can change the feel and energy of the room. Art reflects the mood, the tastes and the attitudes of different people. I love working with oil, in its slow drying process, oil gives me plenty of time to communicate with my canvas. It gives me time to think as much as I need. I feel that oil is a very flexible medium.

What keeps you motivated as an artist?

When you are doing what you love that is the only motivation.

What’s something you might change about our understanding of our culture What’s a value you’d preserve?

No matter what you have heard, please go see our beautiful country yourself. It took me 3 trips to really appreciate the beauty of Laos. I admire everyone who are just genuinely happy with what little that they have.

What’s your favorite Lao food dish?

I can name a few, but hands down a papaya salad, bpeng gai (chicken) and sticky rice.

When are you most satisfied with an artwork you’ve made?

When I can put down the brush and never go back to the piece again. That’s when I know that I am satisfied.


If you could paint anywhere in the world, where would you like to paint?

On top of a mountain over looking the piercing blue ocean.

What’s your starting advice for anyone thinking of getting into art seriously?

Not to be afraid and just do it.

What’s next for you?

I have a few ideas stewing, so stay tuned…

Learn more about Loy’s work here.
-Bryan Thao Worra,


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