"A Piece of Hmong" Video Premieres
Posted: July 10, 2014
Mai Xee Xiong was in her early twenties when she was forced by the American War in Vietnam to leave her home in Laos for refugee camps in Thailand. After spending another twenty years in four different refugee camps, Xiong came to Eau Claire. She brought with her skills she had used for traditional purposes, like sewing colorful hats each New Year.
Beginning last fall, Chippewa Valley Museum staff and the Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association worked with Xiong to create a video documenting her migration story, her process of making a traditional Hmong New Year's hat, and the important relationship between those two things.
We are now pleased to present the video.
More than just a standalone piece, Xiong's video will feature in our new exhibit Changing Currents: Reinventing the Chippewa Valley after its Grand Opening in early December. The personal stories of Hmong refugees are an important part of Chippewa Valley history. At the same time, Xiong's story is representative of a more timeless issue we explore throughout the exhibit: which parts of their former cultures do new residents choose to maintain and which parts do they gradually discard? Why? Xiong's choice to continue making New Year's hats helps open these questions.
The video project was supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.