The name of Shoua Yang’s engraving business translates to “preserve or treasure” in the Hmong language, and the meaning rings true to its artistic mission.
“It’s a way to connect Hmong folklore with young people,” Yang says. “It means a lot to tell a story about my background as a Hmong American, about the Hmong diaspora, to be able to bridge that disconnect with Hmong youth, the outside community, and anyone who wants to learn more.”
Yang, 32, brought his talents to Artspire on Saturday for the fourth year, among some 45 artisans featured at the event. Artspire kicked off the night before with music by Bill Miller and the Ho-Chunk singers and dancers, and resumed Saturday morning with the fair and sale of fine arts, interactive art projects, crafts and crafts. theater and dance performances.
Although rain pushed the festival to the parking ramp and the Pump House Regional Arts Center, activities and performances were able to continue as planned. Artspire was to end with violin music by B2wins.
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Yang’s art stands out for its black and white aesthetic, intricate detail, and compelling imagery. After studying art at UW-Stout and tutored in printmaking for four years, Yang has mastered his bold and powerful style, which invites questions about Hmong traditions, mythology and history.
Printmaking, Yang says, is a way to make his art accessible to the general public, as one carved block can be used to create an infinite number of reproductions. His work is sold on fabric, paper or t-shirts to achieve higher prices.
A woodcut takes between 8 and 12 hours, and Yang says he hopes to bring attention to this historic but increasingly rare art form.
“It’s a very old traditional style that’s no longer practiced, and (I’m glad to) be able to take it out of the classroom to the public, and show this whole process and get the media word out of the printmaking ,” Yang said.
After the coronavirus forced Artspire to go virtual in 2020 and reduce the 2021 schedule, Yang was excited to share what he had been working on during the pandemic and to engage with other artists and the public.
“It means a lot to be back here in person,” Yang said. “I’m happy to come back to the community and see old faces and also new faces.”
Other artists at Artspire included Ann Prey Jewelry, Leaf Street Pottery, Viewpoint Farm Fibers and Handwovens, Lustrous Beaded Creations by Lake and more, and some of the community activities at the event included chalk art, bead painting, and more. paw prints by the Coulee Region Humane Society and an interactive painting by La Crosse Polytechnic.
Entertainment programming included La Crosse Dance Centre, Cloud Cult and Enduring Families Project.
For more information on Artspire, visit https://artspire.thepumphouse.org/
IN PHOTOS: Riverfest 2021