MN State Arts Board grantee / by Tia Keobounpheng

"Soak it in. You've worked hard for this" .... I'll admit, after the initial surge of excited adrenaline, I felt lucky to have been awarded a MN State Arts Board Grant. With a budget deficit in the Arts and Heritage Legacy Fund this year it was uncertain how the grant awards would be affected, and let's face it - we ARE lucky to be artists in MN! It took the words of a dear and respected friend (and viewing my application evaluation/score) to help me to stop and also feel some ownership of this amazing moment. Damn right I've worked hard for this. It might seem lucky, or look easy - it might even be easy for me to overlook the continuous years of struggling, digging and stretching because they are just simply part of me. But after hearing her words, I stopped long enough to feel, in every cell of my body, the effort that has brought me to this point in time. It's been over 20 years since being voted "most likely to become a professional artist" by my senior class in high school, and since studying art & discovering weaving as an exchange student in Finland the year after graduation; Over 15 years since finishing architecture school and starting Silvercocoon with my husband; And, this is my 10th year of making my collection of laser-cut jewelry... while maintaining a marriage in love & work, and raising two boys ... and barely surviving the recession. I have struggled to find balance, often pushing myself to exhaustion. I've explored different ways to grow this thing into a business, all of them 100% self-funded on hard work & dreams and the sheer will to make something out of nothing. Through it all my artistic voice has grown. 2016 brought a return to weaving, a rekindling of my creative spirit, and a burning desire to explore new skills, materials, and expressions. And now in 2017, as I am learning what it means to mature as an artist, THIS GRANT AWARD feels like an outstretched hand to help me step up to the next level. It is that significant. It is that simple. I've worked hard for this!! And I am proud and grateful beyond belief. #tiakeo Photo circa 2006 #readytoworksomemore