Malichansouk Kouanchao | Click on image for more details
Artist’s Statement As a painter, I have explored nostalgic symbols of cultural heritage and cultural transformation. Through my work, I have attempted to understand how culture can be defined, diluted, degraded, or reconstituted when nostalgia influences our perception of history. What interests me most about the images I select is the contrast between my personal history with the cultural symbol, like a U.S. military helmet in Southeast Asia, and what I perceive to be the greater cultural response to that symbol.
My public artwork has allowed me to interact with people from other marginalized, largely urban communities. Through this exchange, I have begun pondering how cultural, political, and historical contexts blend with popular images of immigrant and refugee communities to obfuscate, exploit, and/or repossess our personal and public identity.
In my own work, I like to incorporate the tools of mass media—including digital imagery, video, printing, and advertising propaganda—and contrast popular images with the infinitely less seen, but more authentic, symbols of marginal cultures.