The Lao Diaspora Project

Diaspora: a sense of belonging to more than one history, to more than one time and place, to more than one past and future. -John Docker, Poetics of Diaspora

Following the Fall of Vientiane in 1975, 40 years would mark the first wave of Lao journeys from Laos to over 10 different countries across the world— making it a community of what we now call the Lao Diaspora. Honor your family’s story. Reflect on the past, present and future. Do you have photos worth a thousand memories? Does it tell a story about your family? Does it reflect who you are? Does it speak of the journey of where you came from and where you are now? These are the stories of displacement, isolation, identity crisis, reflection, hope and happiness– some of the themes that encompass the depth of the path to an a better life for the Lao Diaspora.

April 3-May 31, 2015: Make sure to check out the second public exhibit of “Refuge of the InvisibLao: A Visual Essay” opening Friday, April 3rd at Brookdale Library through May. Brookdale Library is located at 6125 Shingle Creek Parkway in Brooklyn Center.

News article about the upcoming April exhibit by the Sun Post local newspaper here.

January 10, 2015: Thank you to our donors and volunteers who made the 2015 January exhibit at the Vine Arts Center in Minneapolis a great success! We hope to have a traveling exhibit to make it even more accessible to communities across the U.S., but we can’t do it without your support and contribution to make it happen.  Please donate to have a traveling exhibit near you.

Refuge of the InvisibLao @Brookdale Library

Refuge of the InvisibLao @Brookdale Library

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Refuge of the InvisibLao @Vine Arts Center, Minneapolis

FRESH PRESS: Official photos from the opening night to come. Read the media coverage on Minnesota Public Radio and Pioneer Press.

Refuge of the InvisibLao: A Visual Essay

Set One are a few of the re-imagined pieces of the Lao Diaspora who submitted their past photos, by neo-expressionist artist, Chantala Kommanivanh. Set Two are from our readers, supporters, and community members who submitted their stories. Set Three are from our founding editor, Chanida Phaengdara Potter, who went on a journey to collect stories from Laos to the US. 

Set One: The Remix

“My style pretty much sums up my childhood experience with art and in the streets. I’m influenced by graffiti and hip hop and it’s institutionalized through expressionism.” -Chantala Kommanivanh

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Set Two: “Red, White & Sticky Rice”

Set Three: “Living among Dreams”

PROJECT BACKGROUND

Little Laos on the Prairie (LLOTP) is an online journal dedicated to providing a platform for Lao voices and bringing a Lao perspective to news, culture and life. In 2013, LLOTP launched a new project collecting stories of the Lao Diaspora starting in Minnesota, across the U.S. and in Laos. These stories will be presented through a visual and literary arts piece that will be archived on the website, displayed at a gallery reception, and presented for public education to learn about our shared journey and history. In collaboration with Laos in the House and visual artist Chantala Kommanivanh, LLOTP plans to expand to more Lao communities and include more stories about the Lao Diaspora across the world.

A BIT OF HISTORY

Diaspora is a social sciences term that has been used as the metaphoric definition of the dispersal of those from the homeland: the expatriates, expellees, refugees, alien residents, immigrants, displaced communities and ethnic minorities. Post-civil war in 1975, many people in Laos sought asylum and resettled mainly to Western nations such as America, Australia and France; with some in Germany and even Argentina.

SUBMISSION DETAILS & CONTACT

Honor your family’s story. Story submissions are still accepted for our permanent online gallery and future exhibitions. For those interested in submitting their story:

1.  Please send a high resolution photo from your first years of living in a new country outside of Laos, with a description of how the photo speak to you.

2. Two ways to submit: A. Submit your story in the story submission box below and/or send the photo to: editor@littlelaos.org.

3. Get featured on our Facebook and/or Twitter.

Questions? Contact us at editor@littlelaos.org or call 612-460-5559.

Thank you to the generous contributions of our supporters:

Building More Philanthropy with Purpose Giving CircleThe Stiglietz Family, Bun Mi SandwichesElizabeth Tolzmann & Family, Immigration History Research Center (University of Minnesota)U.S. Liquors (Minnetonka, Minnesota), The Culver Family, The Thammavongsa Family, The Saopeng Family, Mia-lia Kiernan & Family, The Maniphanh Family

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*The online/public exhibition is also made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.*

…and to our many generous anonymous donors and over 100 supporters who contributed to make our work possible.

Want to support our work? Donate here.

Got a story to share? Tell us about it below.  

What was your earliest memory of living in a new country?

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