Reclaiming Seeds: Visual art exhibition in North Minneapolis

Lao American visual artists Chantala Kommanivanh and Aloun Phoulavan have a joint show together at the New Rules collaborative space in North Minneapolis until December. They are located at 2015 N. Lowry Avenue.

Chantala Kommanivanh is a high energy and engaged emerging Laotian American artist. He is both a visual artist and has an active role as one half of the dynamic hip-hop duo “Maintenance Crew” with whom he has released 4 full-length albums. The rap music and the visual work have areas of overlap in terms of their meaning and content. His work has been displayed in four solo exhibitions in the Chicago area galleries and has been included in numerous group and invitational exhibitions in the U.S. He received his Master of Fine Art at UW-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts in 2014 emphasizing in painting and drawing. Throughout his career Chantala achieved numerous awards such as the Union League Civic Arts foundation award and a two-time A.O.P Fellowship award recipient. Chantala Kommanivanh currently lives and works in Chicago as a practicing visual artist and a professor of the arts at Northeastern Illinois University.

Aloun Phoulavan was born in Vientiane, Laos in 1971 and raised in Northeast Thailand.  He is the second oldest of five children born to immigrant Lao-Thai parents.  He and his family arrived in the United States in 1976 as part of the first wave of Southeast Asian immigrants. His family  was sponsored by a church, which led them to settling down in south central Wisconsin. Aloun has been teaching art for eleven years, of which ten of those years he spent teaching grades K-12 in the St. Paul Public Schools. Currently, he teaches Reading at Como Park Senior High in St. Paul, MN.

In 2015, New Rules founder Chris Webley conducted a design-thinking workshop using problem solving processes aimed to identify the needs of a diverse creatives, professionals, & community members. As a result of their event, over 200 people shared their need for accessibility, communal workspace, places to be collectively innovative, and gain opportunities to share-skills with like-minded individuals. In 2015, they purchased the historic commercial complex located at 2015 N. Lowry and over the course of 18 months, they’ve invested over 5,000 hours in sweat equity and over thousands in personal savings to restore the building to what it is today — New Rules, a new legacy for North MPLS.

The exhibition was put together by The SEAD Project. Started in 2010, The SEAD Project (Southeast Asian Diaspora Development) is a creative social organization on a mission to be an accessible community hub that provides streamlined pop-up workshops on language learning, storytelling, cultural exchanges and knowledge-sharing for Southeast Asian diaspora communities. Through safe and welcoming spaces, we hope to connect the disconnected and drive empowerment to plant the seeds of hope and possibility, locally and globally. Since 2015, SEAD is a legally recognized 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Vientiane, Laos (Ban Phon Village, Phone Hong District).

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