About 1.5

The Southeast Asian Diaspora Project (SEAD) in partnership with Minnesota Museum of American Art (the M) is proud to present 1.5: A Southeast Asian Diaspora Remix. The exhibition will showcase work by Southeast Asian diaspora artists. As part of reimagining the 45th anniversary of the diaspora, SEAD has gathered stories from the community and worked with artists to respond to stories with visual artworks.

Featured artists are based in the Twin Cities, nationally, and internationally, and include Kat Eng, Van Hai, Sisavanh Houghton, and Chantala Kommanivanh, with additional works by Xee Reiter, Leyen Trang, and Christina Vang. The exhibition will also include works created in collaboration between artists and SEAD. 1.5 is a sense of feeling, concept, truth, and tunnel. It’s a reflection of the unspoken boundaries in the past, present and future for the Southeast Asian diaspora. 1.5 describes those who arrived on American soil under the age of 12, their complex and complicated displacement, and the fragments of their memories and dreams by a handful of selected artists who are either 1.5 or their descendents. The exhibit will be a compelling and complex take on the Southeast Asian diaspora experience; which is fraught with fragments of memories straddling in the grey area between these worlds.

Curated by SEAD Project Founder and Executive Director Chanida Phaengdara Potter in collaboration with the M’s Curator of Exhibitions Laura Joseph and Curatorial Assistant Mia Laufer, 1.5 will include art across media, including painting, sculpture, video, and interactive installation. A zine written by SEAD and community partners will accompany the exhibition.

1.5 Events and Programming

1.5: A Southeast Asian Diaspora Remix Virtual Kick-Off
Thursday, September 24th
6:00-7:00 PM

1.5: Scattered Zine Drive-Through Giveaway
Saturday, September 26th
1:00-3:00 PM

1.5 Reimaginings: A Collision Course in Time + Dual Pandemics
Thursday, October 8
6:30-8:00 PM

1.5: Pause & Pa Kwan Art Kit Pick-Up
Sunday, October 25
1:00-3:00 PM


1.5: Scattered Diasporas and the Critical Renewal
Check back soon for date and time information!

September 1, 2020 “The M and The SEAD Project Announce 1.5: A Southeast Asian Diaspora Remix”

Mini Pa Kwan Tutorial

If you picked up an art kit, check out this tutorial! Share your finished Pa Kwan with us (feel free to add your own twist). Use #onepointfive and tag @mnmuseum and @TheSeadProject

Missed it? Watch “Reimaginings” today!

Kat Eng, Khmer Eye Spy I, 2020, inkjet print, courtesy of the artist, SEAD, and Minnesota Museum of American Art.

Chantala Kommanivanh, River Park Boy, 2020, acrylic, oil, and spray paint on canvas, courtesy of the artist.

Sisavanh Phouthavong, Scattered Bomblets, 2020, resin, wood, and reflective sheet, courtesy of the artist.

Leading Artists

Chantala Kommanivanh, Chicago, IL

As an artist, Chantala Kommanivanh (he/him/his) explores the push and pull between what it is to be Lao and American and the question of what home means to a refugee.

Sisavanh Phouthavong, Nashville, TN

In much of her art, Phouthavong works through her experiences of loss as a Laotian refugee of the 1.5 generation through abstraction—the jagged, knife-like edges of her wall sculptures, for example, express pain and bombardment. The artist and her family fled the communist takeover of Laos in the mid-1970s and spent several years in refugee camps in Thailand before coming to Kansas as part of a US refugee resettlement program.

Kat Eng, Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN

Strangely reminiscent of Southeast Asia rather than the Minnesota of popular imagination, the Driftless Area of Southeastern Minnesota is where multimedia artist Kat Eng grew up. It is where her explorations of the loss and belonging that humans feel in relationship to the land are partially rooted. Now based in the Powderhorn neighborhood of Minneapolis, she returned home to photograph her dad in this anomalous place.

Van Hai, Vientiane, Laos

Born in Vietnam, grew up in Switzerland, Van Hai lives actually in Laos, South East Asia since 2010. He is a polymorphic artist. He takes us on a journey into the heart of emotion through images and sounds using diverse art forms such as photography, videography, plastic and graphic arts and writing.

Contributing Artists

Christina Vang, Saint Paul, MN

Motherland is inspired by the traditional Hmong story cloth, an elaborately embroidered panel that documents important historical events. Christina Vang learned to sew from her mom and sisters. Her reimagined version pays homage to her parents: at the center is a representation of Vang’s mom, and surrounding her are three mountain peaks representing the village where her father grew up. The sunrise symbolizes new generations, as well as Vang’s own process of reconnecting with her heritage as an American-born child of a Hmong refugee.

Leyen Trang, Minneapolis, MN

Grief is a yearning, for someone, for something, for what’s lost.” In this series, Leyen Trang reflects on the way it moves through the body in different stages. She has never been to their homeland of Vietnam, but Trang often imagines “going back.” This disconnect produces a profound sense of loss. “I’m not sure I would be able to consider Vietnam home. It’s very foreign but reminiscent of home in a way that many places in Minnesota aren’t.

Xee Reiter, Saint Paul, MN

When she moved to Minnesota from North Carolina, Xee Reiter did not have family here. As a first-generation Hmong American, she found a sense of community by visiting HmongTown Marketplace several times a week. “Food felt like home,” she recalls. Reiter honors Hmong food traditions through her beautiful drawings and watercolors. A self-taught artist, one of Reiter’s strongest memories is when her dad got her a ream of paper for her birthday so she could draw. “I treated that paper like gold.”