black and white photograph; portrait of an elderly woman wearing a black cardigan over a floral printed button up shirt; dangling white flowers on top edge of image; several large leaves on left edge; palm leaves along right edge; received framed/unglazed

%C2%A9 Pao Houa Her%2C courtesy of the artist and Bockley Gallery

Untitled (Portrait), from "After the Fall of Hmong Tebchaw" series, 2017

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Archival inkjet printexpand_more

Minnesota Artist Fundexpand_more  2019.1.3

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At its core, After the Fall of Hmong Teb Chaw—or Hmong ‘country’, expresses the sense of displacement felt by Hmong elders. The title refers to the loss of a Hmong homeland and to a divisive incident in the community. Hmong-American elders were conned into investing large sums of money towards a fraudulent investment scheme, called Hmong Teb Chaw. In exchange for their money, the victims would acquire land, a home, and other benefits in a new Hmong homeland. Instead the investments were cashed for personal gain. The yearning that enabled the swindle persists among those who retain a living memory of Laos as the Hmong Teb Chaw and hope to see a homecoming within their lifetimes. Her’s photographs playfully but emotionally perform an act of homeland imagination— capturing through portraiture the dignity and grace of elderly female Hmong refugees set against traditional backdrops of artificial foliage. This fake backdrop both conceals the setting of the photographs—an elder center in suburban Minnesota—and refers to historical Hmong practices of portraiture in formal poses set against idealized painted Laotian mountainscapes and artificial florals. Juxtaposed the portraits are photographs of displaced fauna at the Como Park Conservatory in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The lush, tropical plants are brought in to create a false environment. In Her’s series, the environment is fake but comfortable, while the subjects’ yearning and hope are real.

Details
Title
Untitled (Portrait), from "After the Fall of Hmong Tebchaw" series
Artist Life
American (born Laos), born 1982
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2019.1.3
Curator Approved

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black and white photograph; portrait of an elderly woman wearing a black cardigan over a floral printed button up shirt; dangling white flowers on top edge of image; several large leaves on left edge; palm leaves along right edge; received framed/unglazed

© Pao Houa Her, courtesy of the artist and Bockley Gallery