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Picturing Change, Seeing Continuity: Hmong Story Cloths

It is a new year and a new semester at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures and that means new exhibitions! There are new exhibitions still to open and other new exhibitions that are now open and worthy of discussion here, but I begin with a note on an small but colorful and (I hope) engaging exhibition that I curated. It is titled Picturing Change, Seeing Continuity: Hmong Story Cloths. In it, we present a new collection that colleagues and I made during October 2017 in St. Paul (Minnesota, USA).* The exhibition explores cultural history and the current state of Hmong American story cloths through the work of two Hmong textile artists living the in the Twin Cities.

The ten embroidered, dyed, and appliqué pieces in the collection and the exhibition were made by Sy Vang Lo or her sister Khang Vang Yang. Both are White Hmong and experienced the dramatic Hmong American history shaped by difficult moves from Laos through Thai refugee camps to the United States. We met and spoke with Mrs. Lo at her excellent shop in the Hmongtown Marketplace in St. Paul and I here express our thanks for the considerable amount of time that she spent with us educating us about Hmong life in Minnesota and in Southeast Asia as well as about her work as a textile artist and businesswoman.

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Thanks also go to all of the museum staff and students who worked on this exhibition and our other spring 2019 offerings. From registering and cataloging new collections to designing and installing exhibitions to promoting and programming them, there is a lot of behind the scenes work in everything that the museum does.

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If you are curious about the textiles, please come see the exhibition open through July 26, 2019. If you would like a food tour of Hmongtown Market, Saveur Magazine published one in 2015.

*The group that visited Hmongtown Market and met with Mrs. Lo were myself (Jason Jackson), Jon Kay, Lijun Zhang, and Carrie Hertz. We were in Minneapolis for the 2017 American Folklore Society meetings.

 

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