Vietnam Veterans Demand Attention

Without context, Pao Her’s photographs appear to be simply portraits of U.S. veterans from the 19th century. With context, The new installation Attention at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts provokes questions about international politics and what it means to be a Hmong American who served in Vietnam. Pao Her, photographing Hmong American veterans of the Vietnam War in uniforms, medals, and ribbons they bought themselves, attempts to draw attention to their exclusion from recognition by the U.S. military. Since the war, many Hmong soldiers have immigrated to the U.S. and made their home here, but they are denied the benefits U.S. veterans receive because they were not officially a part of the U.S. military, even though the U.S. recruited and trained them to fight a civil war on our behalf. Should a government be able to recruit and train foreign soldiers without recognizing an obligation to them as veterans? Continue Reading

Circus Juventas hits the international high wire

Weather in Minnesota may be flirting with winter and spring at the same time, but across the Atlantic some Twin Cities ambassadors are heating things up. The occasion? The Waldoni Circus Festival in Darmstadt, Germany. The ambassadors? Charlotte Richardson-Deppe, Jenna Ober, Rabiya Sehgal-LaRocque, and Shayna Rutledge ­– four area high school students who are also members of Circus Juventas.The Waldoni Circus Festival is an international venue for amateur circus performers to train, perform, compete, and mingle; participants come from as far away as Asia and the Americas, often to see acts and routines that they’ve only heard of by word of mouth – and, often, to model some of them firsthand. Continue Reading

The People’s Passion Play

Today is Good Friday, the day Christians around the world commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion.I did not grow up Catholic, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to its iconography, its saints and the pageantry of holy days and feasts. I have a Saint Martin de Porres statue in my house. And sometimes, despite, my lack of religious devotion, I pray.My family was also not religious. In fact, my grandmother and great grandmother, both Salinan Indians from the central coast of California, viewed the Catholic church and all its Missions with a healthy dose of distrust. But, it was part of their lives…floating from background to foreground at any given time. Continue Reading

ART REVIEW | Don’t miss “In Which ____ and Others Discover the End Performance”

I love the idea of mashing up visual art, music and dance. Just last month I enjoyed a similar show (Stripe Tease) at the Walker. So I was thrilled to get walk-up tickets to the first of the Final Performances of In Which ____ and Others Discover the End Performance. I brought my favorite 10-year old date.There were things we liked about the show, things we didn’t like as much and things that confused us. But we talked about it the whole way home and I think that’s a win for a gallery that “encourages work that challenges the status quo in contemporary art.”We liked the art. Continue Reading