Chao Yang came to In Progress first through friends and then through curiosity and a desire to express herself. She has been a talented and gifted resources to In Progress, writing about our work, and sharing our story with others!
1. Considering all your experience with In Progress, what is one achievement that you personally are most proud of? Why is this achievement important to you? What does it represent?: Perhaps what I experienced with In Progress is more of an "awakening" rather than, a concrete list of achievements. I initially was introduced to In Progress by Kao Choua Vue and Mee Thao, two long time In Progress artists. I didn't have any ideas about what I specifically wanted to do, but I needed a creative space to express all my strong opinions and process what I was and still am going through as a Hmong American woman. With Kristine Sorensen's support, I was able to exhibit some of my photographs during the St. Paul Art Crawl. It was also my first time being exposed to the media, and it helped me organize my own thoughts about what I really wanted my work to convey to people. The exhibit was proof to myself even though I felt I was lacking-my work was important, and that I really had a voice.
2. What did it take for us at In Progress to achieve this accomplishment? What strengths do we have that helped us succeed?: In Progress continues to create opportunities for young people and artists. These opportunities allow for participants to build their skills through active participation in planning, implementing, and evaluating programs, events, and exhibits. In Progress artists truly feel that they have a stake in the organization, and that ownership translates into commitment, engagement, and excellence. Notably, In Progress has great leadership from Kristine Sorensen to the board members, who are all dedicated to paving the way for young and emerging artists from all walks of life.
3. What do you think makes In Progress unique? What 2-3 things are at our very core that make us stand out from other arts programs or youth development programs?: In Progress truly allows for anyone to come in at any skill level. Often times, it's intimidating to go into an organization where there are established artists but there are opportunities to learn so it becomes less daunting, less scary and more feasible. Also, there is an unspoken understanding between everyone: respect yourself, respect each other, and respect the space. In Progress does so well in providing a safe and creative space for diverse artists. In addition, In Progress invests in great digital art tools, which allow artists to work with cameras, software, and materials that they normally wouldn't have the opportunity to use.
4. As you think about In Progress, what do you value most? What keeps you engaged here?: In Progress reignites my passion. I think as I'm getting older I am starting to be more aware of oppressive events, experiences, occurences, and behavior towards my race, my community, my culture, my sex...so digital art is an outlet I can utilize to tell my own story. The opportunity to do so is why I keep coming back to In Progress. There's meaning, passion, and most of all, love in what the artists do.