Are We Ready for the Lao American Renaissance?
It's been nearly 40 years since the Lao diaspora began and we're now seeing the critical points where a Lao artistic and cultural revolution can take place. We have a significant number of Lao elders, maturing Lao artists and a younger generation eager to learn and discover their heritage, only to find very little is actually available in the mainstream.
In many ways the seeds are there, but we need to cultivate them to truly flourish into their fullest potential. In a few short years we've seen the Lao American artists emerge from scrappy newcomers to award-winning figures who are recognized by their mainstream contemporaries.
But how will future historians regard the direction we take? Will we be seen as an artistic community that enjoys hands-on art and live performances, who improvised heavily because of a lack of conventional resources for expression? The Lao tradition has often been considered intricate, subtle or distinctively ornate and iconoclastic, which has often put it at odds next to other aesthetics, particularly today's technology-driven minimalism. But where will we find the truly original Lao voices?
We need to start asking what is the practical and inspirational help our next generation of artists need in order to feel encouraged to explore and express themselves to the very limits of our personal and collective imaginations.
We need to encourage explorations in all of the disciplines. Art, fashion, architecture, crafts, cooking, music, performance, storytelling. All of it needs to be pushed so that we can keep ourselves recharged and energized for the next critical stage as a culture. To last into the 22nd century, we must become a people with something to say, and the talent to say those things interestingly. We have to encourage great leaps of imagination not only conceptually but in actual execution, presented in a way that keeps us all motivated and awed. Our arts have to inspire and create ambition and a sense of our amazing individual capacity for transformation.
We need a mixture of artworks from the easily copied to the unbelievably over-the-top. The best of our artists will create opportunities that encourage dialogue and participation, igniting our imagination at all levels.
Many of us will take cues from our history, but we also must celebrate progress and use our memories and traditions to move forward. What are some of the things you think we need to truly enter the golden age of the Lao American Renaissance?