Tuesday, July 24, 2018

New Asian American Studies Journal to debut this Summer


The University of Minnesota's Asian American Studies Journal and Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay recently shared the cover image for the debut issue of their journal, themed: "Ctrl+F: Identities, Places, Connections." Keep an eye out for it soon.

Monday, July 23, 2018

30 Artists and the Laomagination Movement (1998-2018)

Like many artistic movements, the concept of Laomagination did not initially start with that designation but emerged over time as a catchall phrase for a particular aspect of the post-war reconstruction efforts of the Lao community in diaspora. It attracts artists from many corners of the globe but had some of its most concrete expressions in the United States and Canada.

Laomagination has been a multigenerational effort with key artists engaged in the movement occupying several age ranges, but particularly those who'd be classified as part of Generation X, born in the 1970s and often coming of age in the 1980s. Among earlier literary and artistic movements that have been cited as part of the influences on the movement have been cosmicism, inhumanism, fluxus, hip-hop, and punk.

The following list of artists who might well be studied over time for their participation (or lack thereof) in events, exhibits, and other projects of the Laomagination movement is by no means complete or comprehensive but a starting point for further scholarly inquiry and study.  Because of the frequent output of many of these artists, biographies are highly subject to change.
  1. Bryan Thao Worra holds over 20 awards for his work including an NEA Fellowship in Literature and was a Cultural Olympian representing Laos during the 2012 London Summer Games. The author of 6 books, his work appears internationally including Australia, Canada, Scotland, Germany, France, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, and Pakistan. He was the first Asian American president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an international literary organization celebrating the poetry of the imaginative and the fantastic.
  2. Mattie Do was born in Los Angeles to recent immigrant parents who left during the communist revolution in Laos. Mattie Do returned to Vientiane in 2010 with her husband and whippet to take care of her retired father. Noting that Lao-language films were scarce and that few featured strong female protagonists or stories, she became determined to make a feature film. At the time, Laos had no functioning filmmaking infrastructure and only one cinema in the capital city. Mattie uses horror and supernatural storytelling to convey messages about women's roles and delicate social issues. In 2012, Mattie debuted her film, "Chanthaly", at the Luang Prabang International Film Festival. Her film became the first Lao film to screen at major festivals in America and Europe. Mattie is the first Lao woman to direct a feature film.
  3. Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay was born in a refugee camp in Nongkhai, Thailand and immigrated to Minnesota in 1984. Because of her unique background, her work is focused on creating tools and spaces for the amplification of refugee voices through poetry, theater, and experimental cultural production. She is a teaching artist with COMPAS, Success Beyond the Classroom, East Metro Integration District, and the East Side Arts Council. Her writings can be found in such publications as Saint Paul Almanac (Arcata Press), Lessons For Our Time (MN Center for Book Arts), Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement (Purdue University Press), and The Asian American Literary Review (Binghamton University). She is best known for her award-winning play KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS CANNIBALS (Theater Mu) and is developing two more plays for the KUNG FU ZOMBIEVERSE anthology of stage works.
  4. Sydney Viengluang was born in Laos and raised in Wichita, KS. Since moving to Los Angeles, she has worked her way up from network TV co-stars, appearing on such shows as, ‘Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders,’ ‘Jane the Virgin,’ as well as various film roles. She had a recurring on the hit SyFy TV show ‘Z Nation’ since season 3.
  5. John Chanthana graduated from Columbia College of Chicago with a degree in Film/Video and a concentration in Traditional Animation. He was always involved with a variety of multimedia, from post-production, to web development. When he’s not drawing or illustrating, he coaches youth football and create graphic and web designs. He also enjoys photography.
  6. Peter Chanthanakone is a Canadian-born Lao American, and an award-winning animation director specializing in the 3D animated short film format. He’s the founder of Pixade, and has been an associate professor at the University of Iowa. His newest animated film, Parking Gods (2015) was an official selection of the Hamilton International Film Festival. He’s traveled widely, including Iceland, South Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia and across the US.
  7. Ketsana is a singer, songwriter, and producer.  She was born in Savannakhet, Laos. Coming to America in 1978 – Ketsana had to learn new culture, new language, and especially new sound of music.   Ketsana’s passion for music started to bloom when she joined her school choir at the age of 9. At 11, she was given an opportunity of a lifetime when she was adopted by the popular Lao Rock-n-Roll band “The Strangers” led by her mentor, Lao legendary singer and composer, Silavong Keo. Ketsana has 10 albums and has toured the US, Canada, France, and Laos. Her music is "a blend of East meets West; Mixing the Old and the New to maintain cultural ties." Her production credits include: 25th SEA Games hosted by Laos ~ Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Laos - 1st Annual Lao Artists Festival, Elgin, IL - 1st International Lao New Year, San Francisco, CA -Grand Finale Concert in commemorating the 50th  Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the United Dates and Laos - ELao Rock-n-Diva Concert Series.
  8. Alisak Sanavongsay currently spends most of his free time shooting and editing his wife's popular cooking show, "Cooking with Nana," on YouTube, which currently has close to three million total 22 lifetime views. Alisak was born in Savannakhet, Laos. He arrived in the United States, at the age of 6, with his parents and two siblings. His family was sponsored by a church in Kingsport, Tennessee. Shortly after arriving in Kingsport, the family moved to Elgin, Illinois. During college, Alisak started meeting other Lao on the Internet, starting with Internet Relay Chat (IRC). Through IRC, he met a group of Lao college students who were part of a collaborative called "LaoNet." A few members of LaoNet, then created "SatJaDham, A Lao Literary Project," on April 11, 1995. Alisak currently works for the University of California, Merced, as a programmer. During his spare time he continues to assist organizations or individuals with technological use related to Lao culture and language.
  9. Wattana Khommarath. As a child he discovered a love for drawing while growing up in refugee camps across Thailand and France. This love developed into a true passion not only for art, but for teaching and mentoring. His signature on his artistic works is signed as “EKG!”, his Laotian nickname that’s derived from the word “Ekarath” which translates to Independence/Freedom Fighter. In 2002 Wattana went on to graduate with a BFA from the CalArts Character Animation Program, where he also participated in the first Arts Pedagogy Class. After nearly 20 years of teaching everyone from children to adults, Wattana’s artistic arsenal includes everything from character design and animation, to water color and life drawing, and everything in between. His former students have gone to work at many high profile studios such as Disney, Pixar, Cartoon Network, Bungie, EA Dice, Nokia, Rockstar, Ready at Dawn, Naughty Dog, and Sony; along with one that even formed her own GLAS International Animation Festival. He is currently working as an independent artist out of Liberty Station in Point Loma.
  10. Nor Sanavongsay is an artist from Illinois who currently lives with his family in San Francisco. The author of the children's book Xieng Mieng: A Sticky Mess, he is also the founder of Sahtu Press. He is trained in both design and programming of interactive media. He’s created award winning projects for retail giants such as Sears, Motorola, and many others.
  11. Ova Saopeng is an actor, teaching artist and associate artistic director with Los Angeles based TeAda Productions. Born in Savannakhet, Laos, and raised in Hawaii he is a University of Southern California graduate with a B.A. in Theater. He recently performed in TeAda Productions world premiere of Global Taxi Driver at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis. He is co-creator of Refugee Nation the only nationally touring play about the Lao-American experience. The critically acclaimed play received numerous awards including MAP Fund, National Performance Network’s Creation Fund, and California Council For the Humanities and a “GO!” review in the 2012 LA Weekly. Ova has held many roles as performer, teaching artists and producer on various TeAda works Kalo Projects, Native Immigrant, TeAdaWorks, Delicious Reality and Pop-Up TeAda; all work that focus on refugee and immigrant communities. As a teaching artist, he recently completed a residency creating performances with Southeast Asian youth in the LA Chinatown neighborhood. Ova was one of six playwrights selected to write for Our American Voice a part of the Smithsonian Institutes exhibit I Want the Wide American Earth at the Japanese American National Museum exploring Asian American immigration. Additionally, he has worked with nationally known companies: The Children’s Theater Company in Minneapolis on the production of Dragonwings and Center Theater Group’s production of Wondrous Tales of Old Japan and East West Players production Twelf Nite O’Wateva. He has toured colleges and universities with the Asian American Theater troupe hereandnow. Film credits include Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean:World’s End, Love is Good, Burmese Refugee and Seeds of Hope.
  12. Rita Phetmixay is a Lao-Isaan American scholar-activist who graduated in June 2016 with a dual masters in Asian American Studies and Social Welfare from the University of California, Los Angeles. Rita is a filmmaker who had the honor of creating a documentary about her father’s journey from Laos to Thailand and finally the United States. She was invited to show her film at the Sacramento Asian Pacific Film Festival in 2015 and is still learning about the various ways one can tell their story. She is dedicated to advocating for other underrepresented communities and creating spaces in which communities can discuss topics relating to violence, refugee/immigrant histories, trauma, healing, and resilience. It is Rita’s aspirations to create social change so that these communities can achieve higher education, greater socioeconomic statuses, and healthier lifestyles.
  13. Kinnary Pimpadubsee was a long-time board member of the Lao Assistance Center since 2004-2008 and has been a volunteer since 2000. She became part-time staff in 2009. She has been trained on issues of chemical health and youth leadership development. She was with the Youth Leadership Council on the Asian Coalition Against Tobacco from 2000-2008. She has also worked as the Elders Specialist for the Lao Advancement Organization of Minnesota. She has been part of the steering committee of the Harrison 21 Neighborhood Association working on neighborhood revitalization. Pimpadubsee studied graphic design and visual communication at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. She is very active in the Lao community and also fluent in Lao and English. Her paintings have been featured in the Twin Cities Daily Planet and exhibited in North Minneapolis.
  14. Aloun Phoulavan was born in Vientiane, Laos in 1971 and raised in Northeast Thailand.  He is the second oldest of five children born to immigrant Lao-Thai parents.  He and his family arrived in the United States in 1976 as part of the first wave of Southeast Asian immigrants. His family  was sponsored by a church, which led them to settling down in south central Wisconsin. Aloun has been teaching art for eleven years, of which ten of those years he spent teaching grades K-12 in the St. Paul Public Schools. Currently, he teaches Reading at Como Park Senior High in St. Paul, MN
  15. EraNetik is a Lao-American independent recording artist and professional dancer from Southeast San Diego. He is currently managed by Finest City MG / Collective Society for music and Go 2 Talent Agency for dancing. Not only has he racked up over a million views online and gained thousands of fans, his greatest accomplishments also include NBC's America's Got Talent, TruTV's Fake Off, and being a principal member in the Jabbawockeez show in Las Vegas & Australia.
  16. Krysada Panusith Phounsiri is a Lao-American artist and engineer. He was born in Laos in 1988 and came to America with his family in 1989. A graduate of UC Berkeley in 2010, he holds a degree in Physics and Astrophysics Double Major and also a minor in Poetry. His debut collection is Dance Among Elephants, was published by Sahtu Press in 2015. His work has been featured in the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement and the Smithsonian’s “A Day In The Life Of Asian America” digital exhibit. He recently received first place for Poem of the Year in the Rhysling Awards of the Science Fiction Poetry Association.
  17. Sisavanh Phouthavong-Houghton is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro where she teaches advanced level painting courses.  She was born in Vientiane Laos in 1976. At the age of four, her family emigrated from Thailand to Winfield, Kansas. She attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Painting in 1999. Sisavanh continued her education at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale where 2003 she received her Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting and Drawing. She has exhibited her work in solo, juried, and invitational exhibitions throughout United States, Canada, and New Zealand.  Sisavanh resides in Woodbury, TN with her family.
  18. Thavisouk Phrasavath was a 2010 Emmy-winning director whose work was nominated for a 2009 Academy Award (Oscar) and Film Independent Spirit Award. He is an accepted member of WGAW (Writer Guild of America West). He has directed documentaries, dramatic short and music video for independent record label and artists, published poetry and won awards for paintings and illustrations. He is the author of the book Step Out of the Womb (Memoir of the Journey to Land Where the Sun Fall). His background in community work includes assisting Gang Prevention for Youth and Family Crisis Intervention and working with the police as a liaison and consultant for the Lao community. Thavisouk Phrasavath has consulted for the New York City Board of Education. The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) was the film that he was both subject and a filmmaker.
  19. Carol Rasaphangthong also known as Carol K. Ras, founded Cool Town Creations in Los Angeles. Over the years they’ve created short films and videos featuring original characters to well-known pop culture icons such as Mr. Spock, the supernatural investigator John Constantine from the comics, and more, applying their unique mix of humor and professionalism to each project. Cool Town Creations began as Cool Town Claymation, and today serves as a platform for creative artists to collaborate and make a simple thought tangible through stop motion animation.  Professionally, they offer services for commercials, music videos, short & feature films, business promotional videos, PSA’s and other projects, and can provide stop-motion animation seminars/workshops & consultation.
  20. Saengmany Ratsabout holds a Master of Arts in Southeast Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Ratsabout has taught Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies at Saint Cloud State University and was interested in exploring the social history of Laotian Americans and how immigration laws and legislations affect the community. He has worked in the non-profit and academic sector for over 13 years in various capacities.Ratsabout has been a Board Member of Laotian American National Alliance and an Executive Board Member of the Center of Lao Studies. In addition, he works as a consultant to the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota. As a consultant with LACM, he has worked on the Get Out the Vote project, research analysis, grant writing, planning and evaluation, and community assessment. He currently works with the Immigration History Research Center (IHRC) at the University of Minnesota.
  21. Khetphet Phagnasay was born in Laos. His family escaped in 1979 from the communist government to find a better future in America.  KP has been an Actor, Director, Playwright, and Acting coach for over 15 years. As an acting coach, he has taught at various studios in California and Hawaii. KP is featured in commercials and media such as Lost, Hawaii, Northshore, independent films and local theatre. KP earned his B.A in Theatre Arts from California State University, Fresno, then pursued his MFA in Acting from the University of Hawaii, Manoa, where he studied Asian Theatre forms. He has helped cast talents, and translators for many projects.KP worked on the feature film Finding Hope Now. He is well known with non-profit organizations as a consultant or committee member to groups including FIRM, Stone Soup, and Asian Fest, Better Healthy Community Initiative, California Arts Endowment, and South-East Asian Writers/Artists, and LA’s East-West Players Asian Theater Company.
  22. Loy Khambay-Correa 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. 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.
  23. Chantala Kommanivanh is a high energy and engaged emerging Laotian American artist. He is both a visual artist and has an active role as one half of the dynamic hip-hop duo “Maintenance Crew” with whom he has released 4 full-length albums. The rap music and the visual work have areas of overlap in terms of their meaning and content. His work has been displayed in four solo exhibitions in the Chicago area galleries and has been included in numerous group and invitational exhibitions in the U.S. He received his Master of Fine Art at UW-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts in 2014 emphasizing in painting and drawing. Throughout his career Chantala achieved numerous awards such as the Union League Civic Arts foundation award and a two-time A.O.P Fellowship award recipient. Chantala Kommanivanh currently lives and works in Chicago as a practicing visual artist and a professor of the arts at Northeastern Illinois University.
  24. Lina V Luangrath is a Lao American singer/songwriter from Rockford, IL. She discovered her passion and gift for singing at the early age of six, while singing with the local church worship team. Soon after, she began performing at local events around town. In 2005, her soulful voice quickly caught national attention, as she toured with ELao Entertainment to major cities around the U.S. In 2008, Lina V attended Briar Cliff University where she studied classical voice and fine arts singing. Her renewed rendition of "Kuptoom Luang Prabang" on YouTube caught the attention of the Philadelphia-based organization "Laos in the House" which led to the invitation to perform there in May 2015. Her newly released song "Wall Street" fuses Laotian folk songs, with soulful vocal technique. Lina V currently resides in California, and continues to draw inspiration from her Laotian American roots to fuel her passion for music.
  25. Vongduane Manivong was born  in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, and spent  part of her childhood there. In the late ‘80s she came to America with her parents when they fled the troubled country, finally settling in Dallas, Texas. Her work encompasses a variety of artistic influences, from classical to pop, but it is the emotional core of the work that resonates most powerfully. Vongduane’s art has been exhibited in galleries across country, as well as at many national events, including the Symposium of Lao History at the University of California-Berkley, the National Youth Leadership Council’s Urban Institute, and the Cultural Heritage Exhibition at the Laotian Community Center of Rhode Island. These exhibitions have allowed her to bring wider attention to the diversity of the Laotian experience around the world.
  26. Bidone Salima is a Lao American artist and community builder based in San Diego. Her work as a freelance photographer spans four continents and has appeared in publications such as Bakka Magazine. Her creative flash essay, "Beauty,” was selected as the first winner of the Little Laos on the Prairie Writing Contest in 2013.In 2013, she completed a groundbreaking playwriting class with a cohort of emerging Lao American writers in San Diego, at the Old Globe Theater. She regularly volunteers for several Laotian organizations in Southern California. She speaks several languages and has an AA degree in Administration of Justice. Her future goals include pursuing her B.A degree in human services.
  27. Timothy Singratsomboune is a Laotian American writer, actor, and activist from Columbus, OH. Timothy was involved in racial justice activism while attending the Ohio State University, organizing with groups like Cbus2Ferguson.  Since graduating, Timothy has launched the film team Horizon Side Films with his friend Rashida Davison. Horizon Side Films aims to use film to shed light on Black, Asian, and LGBTQ narratives. Horizon Side’s debut film was All the Way Down!
  28. Kulap Vilaysack is an actor, writer and director who lives in Los Angeles. She is the creator, executive producer, show runner and occasional director of critically acclaimed, BAJILLION DOLLAR PROPERTIE$. Her documentary feature, ORIGIN STORY debuted in 2018. In it she travels to Laos to meet the father that she never knew, all the while dealing with her fraught relationship with her mother. She also co-hosted the comedy podcast WHO CHARTED? on the Earwolf Network and has been at work with her new non-profit Laos Angeles.
  29. Sayon Syprasoeuth is a visual artist, Curator, multi-media design artist and an instructor. He currently works at United Cambodian Community as a Program Coordinator for Living Arts Long Beach, teaching students about career options in the arts through lectures, guest artist visits and by creating and making art. He volunteers ASCRIC, devoted to restoring, distributing, and implementing procedural justice for Cambodian American victims and survivors of the Khmer Gouge. His work recently was in: Asian American Literary Review, Long Beach Post, Boom Journal magazine.
  30. Catzie Vilayphonh is an award-winning spoken word poet and writer. As a founding member of the group Yellow Rage she was one of the first Asian American females to appear on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. In 2013 she received the Knight Foundation Arts Challenge Award to start “Laos In The House” a project which aims to promote story-telling in the Lao American community through the mediums of art. This culminated into her curation of a multi-disciplinary gallery exhibit and performance showcase featuring work by other Lao American artists which debuted in Philadelphia in 2015. Currently she is an Artist in Residence with the Mural Arts of Philadelphia’s Southeast by Southeast Program. Throughout her artistic career Catzie has become a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Award recipient, a 2012 Creative Capital finalist and a 4-time Leeway Foundation honoree. She is a co-founding chair of the Lao American Writer Summit and an active volunteer with the Lao Family Community Organization of Philadelphia.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Lao writer Nay Saysourinho announces website


Lao American writer Nay Saysourinho recently announced her new website at https://www.saysourinho.com.

With roots in Canada, her primary interests with her blog will be food, class, memories, and post-colonialism. She is a Kundiman Fellow, one of only two in the history of the program to date and the only one in prose. She is also a Tin House Summer Workshop Alum.