Saint Paul Murals Project

Saint Paul Murals Project


My name is Vanghoua Anthony Vue. I’m visual artist from Brisbane, Australia. So I was contacted by Kristin, the director of the M. From then on, we kind of worked together to try and create a proposal for the Knight Foundation and everything kind of, just fell in place since then. One of the main things that I’ve drawn upon for these works is, that the idea of the Pioneer Endicott as the heart of Saint Paul. The museum’s here but my residency is also in this building and from this building I’ve…explored. So in a sense… it’s kind of these veins from the central location. So the original plan, really, was just me to come in to do three murals individually. I didn’t feel comfortable enough to come in…just fly in, make art, and then fly out. Opening up space is something that I feel really strongly about. So to have workshops was something I initiated and wanted to develop to be able to engage more with community here and also to meet other Hmong American artists and to allow a bit of voice from the artists here as to what these murals are. It just makes them much more significant to the place and more enriching to the people who live here. We were tasked, really, to just come up with a different interpretation of something that’s representative of the Hmong community. I went with poppy flowers because the Hmong farmers in Laos were the biggest producers of the cash crop, opium. I designed that jackalope. It represents the tension that resulted from the Chai Vang shooting in 2004. I’m really close to it because my father hunts and I used to go with him as a kid all the time. Where I was coming from, was specifically with the idea of herbs and the idea of woman’s knowledge of healing. So mine is my particular style of drawing of a girl and her hair is roots of the herbs. I chose a wood frog because of its ability to adapt. When I reflect on my community, I’m very amazed by how we have migrated for hundreds of years and wherever we go… the new culture that we’ve adapted, we’re able to retain our identity of who we are. Vanghoua has asked us to think about people in our lives who impacted us but also in the community. For me…it was a journey and it came down to a child named Ty Vue. He’s ten years old. He’s also autistic and ADHD and so I feel that (with permission of his parents) that he really represents the community. The piece that I did is of my grandmother. She is the nucleus of why I chose the field in Art and Design. I chose my significant other, Song Vue. She plays a big role in my success. She helps me to stay focused in what I’m doing. She definitely makes sure that I’m honest in myself and in the work that I’m doing. I am doing a portrait of my sister, Khamphian. We have nine kids in our family and she’s the only one who’s taken on the Hmong textiles. There aren’t enough people who are trying to carry on that tradition, and so she is. So I wanted to represent her. I actually chose my brother, Fong Lor. He’s larger than life to me. He’s the oldest so he taught himself how to speak English. He’s a self-made entrepreneur. In addition to running a business and also taking care of his family, and my mom and dad as well. And I really want to just honor him. I chose my mother because I did go to Hmong Village quite a lot on my first visit and… I mean, every time I see stallholders… a lot of times they’re Hmong mothers. So to me, I mean it was my mother, but I also felt that perhaps it could reflect those in the community who do work very hard, who’ve sacrificed a lot for others around them, and they don’t usually get recognition they deserve. We are really excited to be able to unveil this fabulous mural that we have here on the side of the Jackson Street ramp here right in downtown St. Paul. You know, you take on a project like this with somebody whose art you’ve seen on a website and you’ve read an article about them… You don’t know anything about them… you’ve never really seen the art in person but you just have a sensibility. There’s some sixth sense that says this artist is going to be really great to work with and this art is going to be transformative to our community. And that is not only happened here, it happened in spades. It happened so much more than we ever thought it was going to happen with this project. What you’ve done for this community is really outstanding and I think everybody around you can say that Anthony’s been tansformative to what we do here in St. Paul. So I just want to thank you for your generosity and for your artistry and for your kindness and I hope that you come back again soon to experience what we have here in St. Paul, so thank you.

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