In one of the last important Hmong American readings of 2008, Twin Cities literary and artistic luminaries came in support of Twin Cities artist Katie Ka Vang on December 21st at the Black Dog Wine and Coffee Bar, braving the cold and snow as she released her very first chapbook entitled Never Said, collecting her writing.
A popular and respected artist in the Twin Cities Asian American art scene, Katie Ka Vang is a Hmong-American performance artist and writer. She was a 2007 recipient of the Jerome Naked Stages grant where she created a one woman show called 5:1 Meaning of Freedom; 6:2 Use of Sharpening, and plays such as Sia(b), Asiamnesia and From the Ashes. She has performed across the Twin Cities and worked closely with the community to create a positive environment where Hmong and Asian American arts can flourish.
It was standing room only and among figures seen during the evening were acclaimed writers Bao Phi, Ibe Kaba, Kathy Mouacheupao of the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent, actor and writer Wa Yang and Meena Natarajan and Dipankar Mukherejee of Pangea World Theater. It was a particularly crisp winter evening at -12 degrees but people kept in positive spirits, applauding appreciatively throughout the evening. Vang’s opening acts were May Lee Yang, Victoria Vang and The Dirty Darlings.
Sonic Rain, a local Hmong spoken word artist kept things entertaining as the MC for the evening, with clear enthusiasm for all of the performers who came on stage.
May Lee Yang, a frequent collaborator with Katie Ka Vang on artistic projects and performances opened the evening with a poem by special request of Katie, “I Hate Bras.”
Victoria Vang and The Dirty Darlings each provided a talented musical element to the evening, ably demonstrating the growing versatility and innovation of young Hmong artists.
The highlight of the show was Vang, whose performance demonstrated why she was selected by the Minnesota State Arts Board to receive a career initiative grant this year. While Never Said does not include her poem Hardcore Volleyball People, she opened her set with that particular piece, which is among her most well-known, and it ably set the tone for the remainder of her performance. She debuted several new poems and also several crowd favorites including: This One, Poem: To: That Old Lady, Sole Jerk, Uncle’s Visit, This Poem and the title poem, Never Said.
Meanwhile, relatives sold traditional Hmong egg rolls while the Black Dog served coffee and deserts. Katie Ka Vang was later available to meet the audience and sign chapbooks. It was an impressive way to end the year for Vang and the growing community of Hmong artists in the Twin Cities. For further information, you can visit Katie Ka Vang online at www.myspace.com/emptyyks.