ST. PAUL (Aug. 15, 2012) — Hmong Cultural Center has launched HmongEmbroidery.org in partnership with the Hmong Archives.
The idea began with the staff and board of directors of the Hmong Cultural Center and the Hmong Archives almost two years ago. The two organizations were looking for a way to combine resources to create a substantive online educational website intended to promote awareness and appreciation of the Hmong embroidery arts.
“We are very excited about our successful partnership with the Hmong Archives to develop a website with National Endowment for the Arts support to teach Hmong and non-Hmong of various ages about the rich tradition of Hmong embroidery,” said Txongpao Lee, executive director, Hmong Cultural Center.
A joint proposal from the two organizations was sent to the National Endowment for the Arts in August 2010. The NEA awarded a grant for the project in June 2011.
Additional funding for the project was obtained from the Asian Pacific Endowment of the Saint Paul Foundation in the Summer of 2011.
With funding in hand, the Hmong Cultural Center and Hmong Archives staff began meeting in the Fall of 2011 to plan the details of the project including the selection of more than 200 featured artworks from the more than 3,000 included in the collections at the two organizations.
Xai Lor of the Hmong Cultural Center was the Project Coordinator. He took many of the photographs on the site and also wrote most of the exhibit narratives.
Kou Xiong of the Hmong Archives worked on the website design.
Shoua Xiong of Hmong ABC Bookstore served as a Consultant in the development of the exhibit narratives.
Marlin Heise along with Mark E. Pfeifer, PhD helped edit the exhibit narratives.
Noah Vang also contributed several of the photographs of embroidery artworks in the Hmong Cultural Center and Hmong Archives collections that appear in the online exhibits.
Both organizations anticipate that the website will be of interest to broad audiences. A target audience includes Hmong children, youth and young adults. It is hoped that the website will help promote knowledge among young Hmong people of an important part of the Hmong cultural and artistic heritage.
“Thanks to the NEA and the Asian Pacific Endowment of the Saint Paul Foundation, we can now better appreciate the profound creativity of Hmong artists, the wide-ranging beauty of Hmong embroidery,” said Dr. Nengher Vang, Board Chair of the Hmong Archives. “As well as the invaluable efforts of dedicated individuals at the Hmong Archives and the Hmong Cultural Center over the past several years to educate communities of scholars, educators, activists, and community members about the richness of the Hmong culture and tradition.”
Another primary audience the two organizations have in mind are children, youth and adults from the broader population in Minnesota and other states. The Hmong Cultural Center and the Hmong Archives would particularly like for the website to promote awareness and knowledge of the Hmong folk arts tradition in communities with Hmong populations and also in areas with few Hmong residents as a form of multicultural education.
The HmongEmbroidery.org site is intended to provide an overview and exhibits of a wide range of Hmong embroidered artworks including both traditional and more modern styles. Pieces in the exhibits include paj ntaub, applique, reverse applique, batik, Hmong attire, Hmong-inspired designs and crafts and ornaments.
Each exhibited piece on the site is accompanied by an interpretative narrative which discusses key motifs and symbols as well as techniques used in the development of the artwork. In addition, the site also includes a glossary of embroidery-related terms and a guide to common symbols used in Hmong embroidery designs.
The two organizations hope to be able to raise additional funds over the coming year to put together community exhibits of some of the artworks featured on the website.