My run-in with art pieces in Laos

The door was open. I dropped in, of course. It became a gallery. Paper, paint, textiles— all scattered across tables and floors. I quietly called across the room, hoping to not wake anyone up but still intrigued to step in like the curious explorer mae always scolded me as a child. No one answered back. I walked through a maze of art pieces hoisted along the walls from top to bottom and rows of old books and sheets of paper tightly and neatly stacked high on broken tables. The pieces spoke of an artist who had more than one love. There were influences of Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh in the impressionist brush strokes and style of bright colors. This was an artist who was privileged enough to have studied from a Westernized paintbrush, but held a Lao eye to what the pieces had to say about the Lao consciousness. I sat on a bench, the only bench, and waited in anticipation. After 20 minutes of sitting and observing, no footsteps in the distance was heard. No artist. I walked out, but I was already inspired. Continue Reading

A letter to my ພໍ່ father in 1984

At the age of two, my brother Ti fell along the waterfront from a fatal allergic reaction to penicillin, given to him by a medic who had no other available medicine for children. At the age of 10 months, my sister Vilay turned cold blue and stopped breathing in my mother’s arms. It would be years later before mae would go to the local temple. She prayed for a child who wouldn’t leave her side. She told me Buddha answered her prayers. He brought me to her on a Monday night, when she looked out the window and saw a falling star in the sky. She named me Chanida. Continue Reading

10 things you need to know for Lao New Year

It’s Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year) this April 14-16th on the Buddhist calendar and the BeerLao is flowing, water attacks are happening, and your parents are nagging you to finally Spring clean the house. Whether you’re in the states or in Laos, here are ten basic ways to make sure your pi mai is fun-filled in ultimate Lao-style. Continue Reading

Why you should support the stories of the Lao diaspora

As Little Laos on the Prairie blog celebrates its two-year anniversary of trailblazing the online presence of Lao voices, I’m embarking on a journey with my own little laptop and a good camera to collect the stories and capture the faces and spaces that connect the experiences of our Lao diaspora communities. Fellow photojournalists from the US on the West Coast, East Coast, Midwest, and the South as well as Laos are all contributing in this global photo essay effort. But why does this matter to any of us, right? I’m sure that’s what you’re asking. Continue Reading

Lao horror poetry at H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival

It’s been a big month for fans of Lao American horror. Film director Mattie Do had the US premiere of her ghost story Chanthaly at Fantastic Fest in Texas to rave reviews. Playwright Saymoukda Vongsay is days away from the world premiere of her play Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals at the Southern Theater. And Little Laos on the Prairie’s Bryan Thao Worra was a featured guest at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Los Angeles. Continue Reading

Interview with a ‘Phi’ playwright

Saymoukda Vongsay isn’t trying to please the masses, she says. This is the friend and fellow writer I know. I also like to refer to her as the All-Lao American badass. In her latest trailblazing play, Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals, there isn’t just cool fight scenes, bloody cannibals, and ghastly zombies to feed our horror fantasies in live action. She’s making her mark and making a point. Mooks (as family and friends know her by) is an artivist who’s addressing our societal ills in a post-apocalyptic landscape from a Lao American perspective. Forbidden to kill and steal, among other things, what would Buddhists do when their moral compass is in question in this kind of world? Mooks explores this with a take on blending the interrelated issues of immigration, neo-Buddhism, and feminism all wrapped into one play. It sets out to be a transformational narrative and the story transcends current interpretations of your typical horror story. Best of all, it’s written by us for us. Continue Reading