July 27th, 2010 will be declared Mali Kouanchao Day by the City of Minneapolis in a resolution to be introduced by city councilwoman Diane Hofstede during the August 6th meeting of the Minneapolis City Council. The day will be in recognition of the outstanding contributions of Lao American artist Mali Kouanchao to the community and cultural life of the city of Minneapolis, where Kouanchao resides.
July 27th is also Mali Kouanchao's birthday.
In the nomination letters requesting the resolution, Mali Kouanchao was cited for bringing national attention to Minneapolis as a leading Laotian American visual artist in the United States today. She is a resident of City Councilwoman Diane Hofstede's ward in Northeast Minneapolis.
Kouanchao was recently declared an Archbald Bush Artist's Fellow for her artwork highlighting the journey of Southeast Asian American refugees who, in 2010, mark 35 years since the end of the wars in Vietnam, Cambodia and her former homeland of Laos.
The fellowship is the largest artist grant in the Upper Midwest and one of only three open-application artist fellowships of this size in the United States. The Bush Artist Fellowships are designed to strengthen the work of regional artists, to foster their artistic careers and to explore work that stimulates community dialogue. The fellowships are awarded to artists who exhibit strong vision, creative energy, commitment to excellence and community engagement.
The State Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans also recognized her this year with a Leadership Award for Excellence in the Arts. In letters of nomination sent to the city council, it was noted that Mali Kouanchao has been a pioneer for the Lao refugee community, especially among the 25,000 Lao who make Minnesota their home today.
This summer, a children's book by the author Youme Landowne will be released about her life by the award-winning Cinco Punto Press. Mali Kouanchao's art has appeared around Minnesota, and she has been a positive influence on artists from all cultures and communities. She has received support from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, the Headwaters Fund and many others.
You can visit her website at http://www.djai.net/mali