Saint Paul Murals Project: The Artworks

Chaws Leeg (A Place’s Veins), 2017
Industrial tape
Installation on 4th Street at the Historic Pioneer Endicott, St. Paul, MN
Solo installation by Vanghoua Anthony Vue. Photo: Rik Sferra

Chaws leeg includes both directional and architectural mappings of my experience during the first residency in March. Often cited as the “Heart of Saint Paul,” the Pioneer Endicott Building was also my place of residence during both legs of the project. Fittingly, these tape lines work metaphorically as the veins of this experience, representing my explorations, as I traveled out from this central site towards other places, spaces, and infrastructures that contribute to making Saint Paul the ‘heart’ of the Hmong Minnesotan (and perhaps also Hmong American) community. Drawing on the memories of routes taken, along abstracted sketches of the architectural structures of these sites, these tape drawings converge, intersect, and weave together to form a visual recording of my experience.

–Vanghoua Anthony Vue

Flows of Interconnected Motifs, 2017
Acrylic spray paint on the Jackson Street parking ramp, St. Paul, MN
Photo by Chue Yang

Flows of Interconnected Motifs is a collaborative mural combining the symbols chosen by each of the collaborating artists. Referencing issues of misrepresentation and ideas of visibility/invisibility, the vividly-colored camouflage background sets the foundation upon which the collaborating artists have overlaid individual figures, motifs, and compositions. Each artist’s contribution is imbued with its own narrative, reflective of some of the complex and multifaceted experiences of Hmong Americans today. Much like the Mississippi River the parking ramp wall faces, the experiences of Hmong Americans fluctuate and flow as the community shifts over generations and adapts to the various places Hmong communities now call home.

–Vanghoua Anthony Vue

Faces of an Expanded Village, 2017
Spray paint and acrylic on canvas, 6 feet x 8 feet
Executed and initially exhibited on-site at the Asian Economic Development Association
Photo courtesy of Vanghoua Anthony Vue​

Hmong community sites often prominently feature photographic portraits of past and present Hmong leaders in military, service, and politics. As a response to this practice, each of the artists selected a portrait subject of their own, making their decisions based on personal significance rather than Hmong historical or sociopolitical impact. The background of these portraits is filled with symbolic designs and compositions created by each artist in correlation with their chosen figure. Although the subjects of these portraits represent only a tiny sampling of Hmong community members, the artists aim to shine a light on people in their communities whose faces and stories are typically unseen and unheard in traditional commemorative portraiture. Instead, they offer an opportunity for Hmong residents living the Twin Cities and elsewhere to see themselves reflected here, recognizing the everyday triumphs and struggles of ordinary Hmong community members.

–Vanghoua Anthony Vue

The M’s Saint Paul Murals Project is supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight Arts Challenge. Additional support was provided by the Saint Paul Foundation and Lowertown Future Fund, the City of St. Paul’s Neighborhood STAR program, PAK Properties, Minnesota State Arts Board, Sherwin Williams, Wet Paint, Griffith University, and partnering organizations like Hmong Museum, Studia H, Center for Hmong Arts and Talent, and Asian Economic Development Association. 

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.