Flower Cloth “Paj Ntaub” Tattoo Textiles. Photo: Nolan Ly, CasaImpressions
Story Cloth tattooed on Skin. Photo: Fong Vang, Inkarnate Tattoo
Join us on a journey in finding one’s identity through intimate portraits of Hmong tattooed bodies. Visitors will travel through an immersive Hmong Tattoo Exhibit transformed by a blue sea of lights mimicking the waters of the Mekong River where their parents and grandparents swam to escape persecution. Hmong tattoos are inspired by geometric Hmong textile designs which reflect the interconnectedness of humans with their environment. Using handwoven hemp cloth, a renewable resource, as a transformative and tangible object of indigenous knowledge this exhibit, it becomes the central point of focus in this exhibition as a canvas for showing individual voices that reflect ethnic identities, the environment, and contemporary artistic inspirations. Tou SaiKo Lee leads the Hmong Tattoo Crew in the creation of the Hmong Tattoo Exhibit. Hmong tattoos are an expression of cultural identity from the new generation through the body art of textile designs and cultural symbols. Kazua Melissa Vang’s portraits of tattooed individuals in their natural environment showcasing their intersectional identities. A short documentary will highlight the work of Hmong tattoo artists. And finally, performances throughout the evening includes storytelling by Tou SaiKo Lee and a live body painting.
Tou SaiKo Lee is a writer, spoken word poet, storyteller and organizer in Frogtown. He teams with his grandma, Zhoua Cha (Zuag Tsab) who does Hmong Poetry Chanting. Lee became a Bush Foundation Fellow in 2016. Lee is developing inter-generational and world-wide creative resources for cultural identity through arts.
Kazua Melissa Vang, a Hmong American born and raised in Minnesota, is an artist, photographer, and multi-manager for various productions.
Touchaing Yang is a visual media artist of video and photography based in the Twin Cities.