Reinterpreting the Paj Ntaub (story cloth): A Retrospectrum From a Hmong-American
The Art in the Legislature Program displays and celebrates the work of excellent student artists from Michigan’s 15 public universities each year, and their respective works are displayed in the Anderson House Office Building, or the Binsfeld Senate Building, for one year.
The Hmong are an ethnic minority group indigenous to various hill tribes in Southeast Asia. Since the American CIA’s Secret War in Laos—which took place within the Vietnam War, the Hmong have been among one of the most recent Asian ethnic groups to immigrate to America. This project aims to highlight the untold histories of the Hmong and their journey to establish a life in America, particularly under policies that have disproportionately put the Hmong in economic insecurity. My painting is largely based on traditional Hmong story cloths called—Paj Ntaub (pahn-dau), which are embroidered records of the Hmong people’s history of war, persecution, genocide, and immigration. Using oil paint, I reinterpret what the story cloth would look like for future Hmong-Americans like myself, as a way to create visibility for the Hmong within the larger Asian American diaspora. Especially during a time where Asian American representation is extremely vital, as a result of anti-Asian hate crimes and xenophobia.