J. Tshab Her is a second generation Hmong-American. Her parents immigrated to the States as political refugees in the late 1970s escaping war and persecution. She grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and completed an Associates of Art at Waubonsee Community College. Her moved to Chicago to continue her education at University of Illinois in Chicago and recently graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Art in studio arts. She is a multi-disciplinary artist who uses her work to demonstrate the politics of displacement through her own experience as a Hmong woman. Her currently lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.
My work demonstrates and complicates the politics of displacement through my experience as a first generation Hmong-American. As an ethnic minority from Southeast Asia with no homeland, I have a desire to be heard and to be valued. I fear cultural extinction, so I create work that reveals the diaspora of the Hmong, questioning the roles of site and place, and instead looking in-between. I emphasize ephemerality as part of identity. This work is part of the larger question of what it means to belong, and how I join the conversation about the history of political refugeeism in America.
My work engages political and cultural space through installation, site specificity, and social practice. With a background in painting, I use color as a dialogue–a tool for bringing attention to space, claiming space and recognizing how spaces are claimed. Hmong textile is vital in my work. It presents a call to the body, and serves as a surrogate for the Hmong body. I interpret the question of ownership, whether land or body, through the use of material placement and color mixtures. Art is a form that allows me to position my body and other bodies in relation to the Hmong diaspora, and to investigate the generative spaces between visibility and invisibility.