My buddy (and a 2015 recipient of the Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Artists) Sieng Lee is the exhibit designer for We Are Hmong Minnesota/Peb Yog Hmoob Minnesota at the Minnesota History Center. Sieng’s been doing graphic, curatorial, and production work on this project for the last two years, and we’ve had many, many (many) conversations about what it means balance our individual interests as artists (although Sieng would say he’s a designer) alongside our commitments to working in our respective communities.
About his contribution as an artist to the exhibit, Sieng says:
My piece in the show is titled ‘Let Our Spirit Fly’. It is made up of spirit money, or joss paper, a common ritual paper used in many East Asian cultures. In the Hmong culture it is used to decorate alters and burned at funerals or New Years to ensure health, happiness, and wealth for the deceased. I created the piece to memorialize and respect those who were not able to make it to America after the Secret War in Laos. The sculptural piece symbolizes a gateway to a brighter future, and a remembrance of the memories, land, and people we loss.