We had the good fortune of connecting with Sisavanh Phouthavong Houghton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sisavanh, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
Applying for shows gave me a deadline to keep creating new work, and it allowed me to continue exploring materials that supported my concepts.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
First of all, there aren’t too many professional Laotian artists, which sets me apart from others, and I am super proud of myself when the younger Southeast Asians Artists look to me for mentorship and someone to look up to. I don’t think the path of being an artist is ever easy. Some may say I am lucky to be making a living and do what I love. But it does come with challenges. I have a very supportive family and a few friends who I can ask for an honest opinion and a supportive Laotian Professional community that is all over the country. Technology has its perks. I learned to make a lot of mistakes; I learned that it is an O.K. to fall and scrape your knees, I learned to ask for help, I learned to shoot for the stars even when other are in doubt. I want people to know that I will keep making artwork to represent and speak about my Lao community. Also, never stop creating, support one another across all boundaries, and be a good human being.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, of course, I would take them to downtown Nashville to visit the Frist Museum of Art, galleries on Fifth Avenue such as Tinney Contemporary Gallery, who represents my artwork, and definitely a trip to Chattanooga to visit The Hunter Museum of American Art and the infamous Rock City.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to shoutout to the SEAD Project (Southeast Asian Diaspora), for including me in the “1.5 A Southeast Asian Diaspora Remix” Exhibition currently on view until the end of January 2021 at the Minneapolis Museum of American Art, St. Paul, MN. Chanida Potter is the founder of the nonprofit Little Laos on the Praire and SEAD, where she dedicates her time and energy to the betterment of the Southeast Asian community. Another shoutout is to Catzie Vilayphone, founder of Laos in the House, who curated the show “Thank you, No Thank You”, alongside Asian Art Initiative, Philadelphia, PA. And last but not least to all Southeast Asian participants who trusted me with their refugee photos to create an installation about our “Transparent Voices”. This collective piece was created for you and to remind us to not forget our past, but through resilience to move forward.
Facebook: Sisavanh Houghton