I often think of the old masters of the Renaissance who giggle like small children in a candy store, full of joy from the discovery of linear perspective, its vast potential and a new method of expression.
I too, giggle with joy, at the thought of finally having an opportunity to explore core elements and characteristics of the most traditional and in my opinion, one of the best known art forms, the Hmong Paj Ntaub and the new, Hmong American Paj Ntaub, the Story Cloth.
The Hmong Paj Ntaub is a traditional Hmong art form known in America in two basic variants. The traditional version is a small textile with sewn abstract symbols and patterns representing animal and nature. It has functional cultural identifiers, identifying the clan and family origin of the living and used to identify the deceased in the after life when used in funerals. The other variant is the American Paj Ntaub that tells the story of life in the refugee camp and the journey to America.
This is truly exciting because though the Hmong culture is very rich, little of its art has been written, documented or have been fully explored, due the modern Diaspora of the Hmong beginning in 1975.
My body of work, to some may not appear at first, to be strictly ethnic or culturally based because traditional Hmong art tools, techniques, and in some cases not even the same media and or materials were used to create it. Yet further examination reveals my intention to substitute the artist's brushy for the needle and paint for the threads of my ancestors, in the hope of taking this Hmong art form to a new level, while still maintaining its core elements.
"Many may say that living with the collision of two cultures is a burden, but I find it a blessing in disguise."
The Blake School
The tunnel linking the Hopkins Lower School to the Middle School is undergoing a colorful transformation thanks to art teacher Seexeng Lee and a group of Blake student-artists. Look for more on this project in the months to come! (Video by Nadia Lee) [read more]
Post on: June 8, 2015 9:56:00 AM
24"x36", acrylic on canvas with 24kt gold, silver and copper leaf highlights. 2005. I believe that we, the Hmong are some of the most resilient people to set foot on this earth. Then we were farmers, living in our ancestral homeland- high hills and mountains of China. Then we express ourselves with threads and needles. Now we are doctors, lawyers, educators, politicians and etc. Now, we expressed ourselves with paint and paint brushes.