I am a writer, performer, organizer, and have recently delved into filmmaking. At my core, I am a storyteller. My hunger to tell and receive stories sits at the center of each of my disciplines. As a young Hmong American born and raised in the United States, I have a deep conceptual interest for in-between spaces; between ethnicities, between generations, between experiences. Similarly, I find great influence from artists who approach this subject matter, like Bao Phi, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Kao Kalia Yang. I also find great influence in the communities generate the conversations that allow this subject matter to exist. I am influenced by my parents and elders, as much as I am by my baby brothers and the youth I work with, not only in what stories they tell, but how they choose to tell them. Accessibility is a value I hold dearly in my art, especially as I attempt to create art that can exist and thrive inside of these in-between spaces. I am always eager to find ways to transcend or even flip barriers, like language or technology, in order to generate thought, conversation, and action between communities. For me, art should always be rooted in the community, and if the community cannot receive or understand my art, then I have to find a way to change it. On the flip side, I hope my art is not always easily digested; I hope it encourages growth and discomfort and deep thought as needed, but I need to know that my community understands that. I also love to play with my art. Joy, giddyness, and laughter are important parts of my character and are all things I try to uncover in my stories.
Curiosity sits at the center of my creative engine. My biggest motivation is hearing a question that I don't have an answer to. I also feel that strong and impactful art realizes that the answer to these questions, or the path to the answers, is in the people around us. I am motivated by understanding the human impact of art and the communities that take in and act on our messages. I am also deeply motivated by learning and processing. I love looking at the big picture and playing with ideas.
Direct communication is something that I have often struggled with throughout my life. I am an introvert and have at times dealt with social anxiety, but I have so often felt so much about this world. My art allows me to tell the world and myself about how I am feeling. On a more macro level, I believe art has the ability to let communities express feelings about issues that are difficult to have. How do we engage communities in high level conversations about difficult subject like racism, or sexism, etc. if they've never approached the topic before. I feel that art has the ability to be a jump off point for these conversations. That has always been the most important goal of my art, is to bring people together to talk and hopefully act together, especially when its difficult.
I feel that I could improve on my discipline as an artist. I don't have processes in place to create and critique my art and at this point, it just comes and goes as it does. I want to develop better work ethic as I approach my art. I also want to get better at asking for things. Asking for things include funding, resources, collaboration opportunities, promotion, and the like. I want to get better at sustaining my art and giving more opportunities for people who want to support my art.
I feel that strong and genuine peer relationships help me create my strongest art. Not necessarily collaboration, but simply learning alongside and examining the work of my peers has always been something that has motivated be to create art at my best. Tying the work we do with communities and organizations, which is something you folks seem to be doing already, is something that also helps me ground my art into something larger, which I value. Like I stated earlier, I think letting us play with our art together is something that I feel would make me become a stronger artist. Help us find the joy and sweet spots in sharing our art and this space together.