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  • Name
    Pao Houa Her
  • Title
    My grandfather turned into a tiger… and other illusions + Pao Houa Her & May Lee-Yang in Conversation
  • Date
    May 18, 2024
  • Time
    11:00 – 12:30 pm
  • Location
    Midway Contemporary Art Gallery (1509 NE Marshall Street)
  • Event Details

    Please join us at Midway’s Gallery on Saturday, May 18th for the launch of artist Pao Houa Her’s new book, My grandfather turned into a tiger… and other illusions. A conversation between Her and writer May Lee-Yang will begin at 11:30 am and focus on the publication and Her’s practice.

    We are thrilled to welcome Her back to Midway to celebrate the occasion of her first monograph. Many of the photographs featured in the book were shown in Her’s 2018 Midway exhibition that shares part of the book’s title My grandfather turned into a tiger. The publication also includes texts by Godfre Leung, Kong Pheng Pha, Mai Der Vang, and Kao Kalia Yang, along with an interview between Her and Audrey Sands. Copies will be available for purchase.

    We also encourage you to attend the opening of Niam ye, a solo exhibition by Pao Houa Her at Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis on Thursday, May 16th from 5:00 – 7:00 pm. Her will give an exhibition walkthrough prior to the opening at 4:00 pm.

    From the publisher, Aperture:

    Pao Houa Her’s first major monograph, My grandfather turned into a tiger… and other illusions, explores the fundamental concepts of home and belonging: illusion, desire, and loss.

    Her’s work draws inspiration from a myriad of sources: apocryphal family lore; portraits of the artist’s community and self; and reimagined landscapes, with Minnesota and Northern California standing in for Laos. The compelling and personal narratives are grounded in the traditions and contemporary metaphors of the Hmong diasporic community. My grandfather turned into a tiger brings together four of the artist’s major series, including the title work which reimagines her family’s history before leaving Laos. Other work deals with a scandal within the Hmong community in which hundreds of elders were swindled as part of a fraudulent investment scheme built around the promise of a new Hmong homeland. In another series, tonally rich black-and-white still lifes of silk flowers collected by her mother are presented alongside images of flowers that adorn the digitally manipulated, hyper-colored popular backdrops used in Hmong photo studios and on dating apps. This beautifully designed monograph showcases Her’s keen eye on the line between ersatz and authenticity; as the artist has stated, photography is “a truth if you want it to be a truth.”
    My grandfather turned into a tiger is the result of the Next Step Award, a partnership between Aperture and Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York, in collaboration with the 7|G Foundation. Each cover is unique, featuring up to thirty-two jacket iterations, but is anchored by the same sticker on the front and back.

    Pao Houa Her (born in Laos, 1982) is a Hmong American artist and assistant professor in photography and moving images at the University of Minnesota. She holds an MFA in photography from the Yale University School of Art (2012) and a BFA in photography from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (2009). Her’s solo exhibitions include Paj quam ntuj / Flowers of the Sky at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (2022–2023); Emplotment at Or Gallery in Vancouver, Canada (2020); and My grandfather turned into a tiger at Midway Contemporary Art in Minneapolis (2018). Recently exhibited in the Whitney Biennial (2022), her work has been included in group exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC, the Milwaukee Art Museum, MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum in Chiang Mai, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, among many others. A prizewinner in the 2022 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition (2022), Her was also the recipient of the McKnight Visual Artists Fellowship (2022 and 2016) and the Jerome Fellowship for Emerging Artists (2019). Notable public collections include the Singapore Art Museum and the Walker Art Center. She is represented by the Bockley Gallery, Minneapolis.

    May Lee-Yang is a Minnesota-based Hmong American writer, performance artist, and teacher.  Her work often uses pop culture and humor to interrogate gender, sex, and race. Her theater-based works include The Korean Drama Addict’s Guide to Losing Your Virginity, Confessions of a Lazy Hmong Woman, Ten Reasons Why I’d Be a Bad Porn Star and have been produced through Theater Mu, Illusion Theater, Intermedia Arts, Out North Theater (Anchorage, AK), and The National Asian American Theater Festival (Los Angeles, CA). She has received support from The Playwright Center McKnight Fellowship, the Jerome Foundation, the National Performance Network, the Bush Foundation, the MN State Arts Board, and the Loft Literary Center. She is a founding member of F.A.W.K. (Funny Asian Women Kollective), a group that uses comedy to combat the invisibility and dehumanization of Asian women. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of MN – Twin Cities.
  • Conversation

    Conversation between Pao Houa Her & May Lee-Yang will begin at 11:30am