All posts filed under: Lao American

MIA Erasure, My Reflection

To much fanfare, the exhibit Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975 opened in Minnesota at the Minneapolis Institute of Art this month and will run until January 5th, 2020. It’s billed as a way to look at “the innovative ways artists talked back, often in the streets and other public venues. The exhibition presents nearly 100 works by 58 of the period’s most visionary, provocative artists.” For Southeast Asians of Vietnamese, Hmong, Laotian, and Cambodian descent, and active military veterans, you can even see the exhibit for free. It’s been a long time since I’ve been given free admission to an art exhibit to witness the complete erasure of my community’s perspective and reactions to the Vietnam War, the Secret War, and the Killing Fields. For Minnesotans, who arguably have one of the most deeply tangled relationships with Southeast Asia than almost any other US state, this ought to be a stirring and profound exhibit: one filled with so many heartbreaking memories and reflections on themes and issues addressed over four decades ago, …

Podcast aims to heal Lao community through conversation

Rita Phetmixay wants you to make your mental health a priority. As a self-described politicized healing practitioner, educator, filmmaker and storyteller, Phetmixay aims to create a space for the Lao diaspora to heal through her new podcast, “Healing Out Lao’d.” With this project, Phetmixay said she wants to raise awareness of Lao American stories of intergenerational healing and resilience, provide a place to process grief and destigmatize the idea of asking for help. “I’m hoping that people can finally say, ‘Hey, I’m not weak for asking for support and I’m not weak for being soft or being in my feelings or being sensitive. I’m not weak for seeking therapy or whatever healing avenue works for me,’” Phetmixsay said. ‘”I am strong, I deserve to be healed and I deserve to have access to it.’” Phetmixay was inspired to create the podcast under the mentorship of actress, director and writer Kulap Vilaysack, who also founded Laos Angeles, a community of Lao people in media and entertainment. Phetmixay said she noticed a narrative of trauma surrounded the …