VISUAL ARTS | Intermedia Arts faces “Legacies of War” in Laos and Minnesota


The floor isn’t usually something that grabs your attention—let alone alarms you—when you enter an art exhibit. But the yellow dots beneath your feet at Legacies of War might inspire a double take when you are prompted to imagine that they are bombs, posing the threat of detonation at any moment. 

Intermedia Arts, Pangea World Theater, and the Lao Assistance Center collaborated to create Legacies of War, currently on display at Intermedia Arts. Curated by Malichansouk Kouanchao, the art exhibit opened on September 30 and runs through October 24.

Presented in conjunction with the Refugee Nation touring performance, Legacies of War succeeds in achieving its mission “to raise awareness about the history of the Vietnam War era bombing in Laos and advocate for the clearance of unexploded bombs, to provide space for healing the wounds of war, and to create greater hope for a future of peace.” The exhibit is an overdue acknowledgment of the tragedy of the U.S. bombings during the Secret War that drove many Laotian refugees to leave their homelands, and haunts them to this day.

Legacies of War uses photographs, letters, and drawings created by Laotian refugees as tools to tell the story of the trauma they’ve experienced. Viewing these products of Laotian refugees’ attempts to communicate the tragedies they experienced in their home country evokes deep sympathy. You can’t help but imagine yourself in the shoes of those who endured the Secret War firsthand upon learning that Minnesota harbors the third largest Laotian population in the United States. Furthermore, the irony in discovering that many of the bombs used in what remains the most torrential bombing to ravage any nation in the world were manufactured in Minnesota strikes a chord. Stamped with the words “made in Minnesota,” many of these undetonated devices remain a hazard in the daily lives of Laotian civilians.

Legacies of War goes beyond eye-opening depictions, introducing you to the horrific events endured by your fellow Minnesota residents and suppressed in their own minds for decades.