Lao Artist Festival part 1

The first Annual Lao Artists Festival was held in Elgin, Illinois and organized by the Lao Professionals of Illinois. There was an incredible round-up of heavy hitters such as:

Khampa Bouaphanh - photographer and photojournalist who has covered a wide spectrum of assignments, notably the war in Iraq, the Asian tsunami, and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. He was twice named photojournalist of the year by the Houston Press Club.

Thavisouk Phrasavath - filmmaker, screen writer, and author who is an Oscar nominated and 2010 Emmy winner for the documentary, The Betrayal, which he was both subject and co-producer. He has two upcoming books, Step Out of the Womb and Old Seed On The Soil, and a new screenplay for his upcoming feature Lover Beloved.

Kevin Vong - fashion designer who graduated with honors and was a Presidential Scholar for two consecutive years from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. He owns a boutique in Manhattan and one of his creations was featured in the soap opera, As The World Turns.

Ajahn Malavanh Douanphoumy - Lao traditional music recording artist and professor who sings the art of folk song, lum, has studied at the National Academy for the Arts and has traveled internationally (Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Burma, Singapore, Russia, Germany, France, Spain, etc) as an ambassador of the Lao folk art. She's worked on over 50 recording projects, 15 of which were solo albums.

Ajahn Bounseung Synanonh - Lao traditional Kaen musician and professor who is considered one of the world's best. Master Synanonh recorded the album, Bamboo Voices under the World Music Institute label under the direction of world-renowned ethnomusicologist Terry Miller. He's also performed for President Reagan at a White House cultural event in 1987, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival to more than 10,000 festival goers.

Nor Sanavongsay - Interactive Media artist from Illinois. He is trained in both design and programming of interactive media. He’s created award winning projects for retail giants such as Sears, Motorola, and many others. He is currently working on two children’s book which he plans on publishing within the year. During his rare off-hours, he donates his time to design posters and flyers for many community services across the US.

Malichansouk Kouanchao - Visual Artist, Web and Interactive Designer whose multidisciplinary works explore the relationship between art, transformation, and communal healing. She serves on the advisory committee for Legacies of War, a national project established to raise awareness of the Secret War in Laos, as well as to advocate for further U.S. support toward the removal of cluster bombs and increased aid for cluster bomb survivors. She is the subject of the new childrens' book “Mali Under the Night Sky” by Youme Landowne, a recipient of a 2010 Bush Artist Fellowship and a 2010 Asian Pacific American Leadership Award from the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, and the Bush Artist Fellowship.

Sisavahn and Oulinthong Sihanath - Crafts and Jewelry Designers who create cultural pieces for Temples and weddings.

Ova Saopeng and Leilani Chan - Theater directors and performing artists from Los Angeles. They are the Founding artistic directors and artists of TeAda Productions Company and creators of Refugee Nation, a play about the Lao-American experience based on stories of Lao communities across the US.

Pom Khrampradith - Lao traditional dance instructor and director of the Lao Heritage Foundation Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's also the artistic director of Kinnaly, a Lao traditional dance and music troupe based in Seattle, WA where she teaches over 60 second generation Lao American youth. Her teaching and work experiments with incorporating contemporary Lao music and dance styles.

and then of course, Catzie, Bryan (who was honored with a Literary award), and Saymoukda were also there - rocking the house with our poetry at a workshop for the Lao community in Elgin.

Kids say the darnedest things during spoken word poetry performances.

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