Tia Keobounpheng is a 2018 Next Step Fund Grantee.
       
     
Poem
       
     
FULL CIRCLE
       
     
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BAGGAGE
       
     
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WOMEN'S WORK / WOMEN'S ARMOR
       
     
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BLOOD MEMORY
       
     
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FORCED/FORCE
       
     
One of sixty
       
     
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Tia Keobounpheng is a 2018 Next Step Fund Grantee.
       
     
Tia Keobounpheng is a 2018 Next Step Fund Grantee.

This body of new work was produced between August and November 2018 with the expressed purpose of exhibiting in a solo exhibition as the 28th Annual Contemporary Finnish American Artist Series at Finlandia University Gallery in Hancock, Michigan from November 29, 2018 thru February 15, 2019.

"This activity is made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) through a grant from the McKnight Foundation."

Poem
       
     
Poem

This poem served as the artist statement for the exhibition and was written upon the completion of this new body of work. The poem ties this new work to Tia’s very first sculptures that were completed earlier in the year (2018) before the grant period.

FULL CIRCLE
       
     
FULL CIRCLE

Copper, copper wire

2018

Full Circle: “through a series of developments that lead back to the original source, position, or situation or to a complete reversal of the original position —usually used in the phrase come full circle “ - Miriam/Webster dictionary

How is it that one could return to the original source and be in both the same position and complete reversal of the position at the same time? What is truth and how does our perspective have the ability to change the truth for ourselves? Returning to the same fire that burned within me twenty years ago, I was able to find a way to act upon my desires to be an artist in a way that was impossible earlier in my life. The situation of fear and self-doubt was the same but at 40 I could dive into the position that deceived me as a younger version of myself. To come full circle is not an end, but a beginning. Time becomes fluid and connections are the same but entirely different. There is a point of connection but the two planes disperse differently in the same direction and possibility is open, endless.

56_lower.jpg
       
     
BAGGAGE
       
     
BAGGAGE

Copper, copper wire, padlock

2018

“If someone is assaulted, or experiences trauma, there is science and scientific proof (it’s biology) that people change. The brain changes and literally what it does is it take the trauma and it puts it in a box and it files it away, and shuts it so that we can survive … the pain. And it also does a lot of other things. It can cause body pain. it can cause (you know) baseline elevations in anxiety. It can cause complete avoidance of not wanting to even remember or think about what happened to you.” - Lady Gaga

This piece is about making the invisible visible … not necessarily unlocking the trauma, but simply recognizing its presence. The Kavanaugh hearings were a trigger for women the world over. Physical, emotional, verbal, psycological trauma can be buried and forgotten but that does not mean it is benign — our bodies don’t forget. We carry it with us as diligently as handbags and jewelry.

20190312-_DSC5556.jpg
       
     
20190312-_DSC5561.jpg
       
     
WOMEN'S WORK / WOMEN'S ARMOR
       
     
WOMEN'S WORK / WOMEN'S ARMOR

Copper, copper wire, cotton warp thread, wool yarn, wooden dowel

2018

Women’s armor is different from men's armor. We do not battle in the same way as men, so why would our armor simply be an adaptation of the kind they wear? Women’s work is our armor. It is historically how we have connected with our community of women - through quilting bees and knitting circles and weaving clothe. Our work and our armor are a part of us. We knit and stitch and weave our resistance into us. It is more a part of our soft bodies than an implement that we wear. It is in our minds, in our hearts, in our wombs, in our work. Women’s Armor is soft.

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BLOOD MEMORY
       
     
BLOOD MEMORY

Copper sheet, electrical wire

2018

Inspired by an in depth conversation with an Anishinaabe friend and mentor about Blood Memory, I created a piece that attempted to express the inexplicably emotional pull that I have to weaving - believing that it is my own way of filling the void that I feel from growing-up without grandmothers. Working with my hands is my greatest skill and it brings me the most joy. I have always been good at crafting objects and I pick-up skills quickly, effortlessly and perhaps it because it is literally in my blood?

“Blood memory is described as our ancestral (genetic) connection to our language, songs, spirituality, and teachings. It is the good feeling that we experience when we are near these things.” - Mary Annette Pember, Daily Yonder blog

It was only later, once the piece was hung for this exhibition that I was introduced to Viking-era Nordic Jewelry through a professor at Finlandia University and the striking resemblance of this form to necklaces that my Finnish ancestors would have likely worn.

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FORCED/FORCE
       
     
FORCED/FORCE

60 6”x6” sheets of copper

FORCED/FORCE

In a man’s world, a woman’s attempt at success is forced … measured by a man’s standard, a system of laws, a definition of beauty, a permission granted or denied. We force ourselves to fit into a mold that was not made for us, was not crafted for our health or wellness or success. We are forced physically, psychologically, emotionally to adapt to an environment that objectifies and does us harm … even if only by not understanding our true nature. But, we have seen what happens when we speak our truths – first to each other and then collectively. Sixty women held a man accountable for his abuse and despite his fame and reputation as an all-American father, he is in jail because of their courage to speak. We are a FORCE when we unite together.

One of sixty
       
     
One of sixty

In my own personal struggles with finding health after burn-out, I have questioned my incessant drive to succeed. It was through exploring with material and incorrectly using my tools that this piece was born. It occurred to me that every measure of success that I was using was part of a system developed by the white men in power. Every law, every discrimination, every intentional attempt to create equality was made within the confines of a man’s world. As women, we force ourselves into a mold that was not made for us. We do not think like men, we approach problems differently than men, and it became so viscerally clear to me how my own attempts to fit myself into that measure could lead me to burn out.

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