New Work by Sisavanh Phouthavong
February 25 - March 25, 2017
Opening Reception: March 4th, 6 to 9 pm
Artist Talk: March 4th, 5 pm
Tinney Contemporary is pleased to present Legacies of War, an exhibition of new work by Sisavanh Phouthavong. Sisavanh Phouthavong is one of the first professional Lao American visual artists and educators of her generation. Over 5,400 Lao refugees resettled in Kansas in the aftermath of the Laotian Civil War that ended in 1975. Through her powerful acrylic work, she confronts the challenges of bicultural memory and documentation. She considers notions of the abstract and the concrete for those who must remember both their inner and external histories in a diaspora framed by secrecy and loss. Her work probes what is shared, what is felt, and what must remain deeply personal among the lessons passed on to the next generation as it heals and rebuilds.
This new body of work is inspired by the organization Legacies of War (legaciesofwar.org). Their mission statement: "is to raise awareness about the history of the Vietnam War-era bombing in Laos and advocate for the clearance of unexploded bombs, to provide a space for healing the wounds of war, and to create greater hope for a future of peace." As a refugee, the process of connecting and disconnecting with a place or community are abstracted ideas of migration as an immigrant. The collage and painting process is unpredictable and is an ongoing dialogue about assimilating and relocating into another culture and space. The work captures and embraces architecture and built environment in its state of flux. Teetering between realism and abstraction, Phouthavong folds space and time to connect with the fleeting world. To achieve a kaleidoscopic effect, she employs multiple viewpoints, rhythmic fragmentation, and strong color contrast to fuse both the contemporary and historical landscape elements into one.
Sisavanh Phouthavong is the painting professor in the Department of Art at Middle Tennessee State University. She earned a B.F.A. from the University of Kansas and an M.F.A. from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Phouthavong's source material for research is autobiographical and stems from her personal experience as a refugee, mother, wife, teacher, citizen, and observer of everyday culture. Her work has been seen in solo, juried, and invitational exhibitions throughout the U.S., France, Belgium, and New Zealand. She has been published in the Studio Visit magazine, recognized as a New Superstar of Southern Art by Oxford American and most recently four of her bronze work has been chosen by Arts in the Embassy for a permanent collect at the new American Embassy building in Paramaribo, Suriname. Her research has been funded several times by the Tennessee Arts Commission and MTSU grants. She partners with the Frist Center for the Visual Arts' Educator for Community Engagement; the Oasis Center; and CRIT, the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee.
*Biography courtesy of Bryan Thao Worra.