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Stoking the Fire 4


In the fall of 2000 sculpture student Pa Shoua Vang joined instructor Teresa Lind at the Dean's Symposium to present “Metal Casting in the UW System: Keeping the Fire Alive.” Vang, who is graduating in May, sat with student reporter Mai Yeng Xiong to talk about her love of 3-D art and what roles culture and gender play in her artistic world.

UNMASKED: Pa Shoua Vang and a few of her masks. Photo by Shawn McAfee/UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies.

Pouring metal only reaffirmed to Pa Shoua Vang that art can come in many forms. “It doesn’t matter really what medium you’re using,” said Vang, a UW Oshkosh senior sculpture artist. “It’s just whatever object or thing you’re building with your hands.”

Vang’s first major pour is entitled "A Women’s Worth." It consists of 18 identical masks, 10 made from bronze and eight from aluminum metal that she made over the summer through a student-faculty collaborative grant. Each mask is about 7 ½ inches tall and weighs five pounds. Vang said her inspiration for the mask project came from the Hmong traditional practice of dowry exchange between the groom’s and bride’s family.

“The concept behind it was the dowry in the marriages in the Hmong culture,” she said. “I wanted to shed some light on how it has transformed in the past couple of years with our people moving to the States and being influenced with the modern world.”

Vang chose sculpture as her major because of the ability to think of a concept and build create something physical that people can observe and admire. “I want to make art that will reflect me as a Hmong woman, but then is also relatable to whoever the viewer or the audience is,” she said.

She admits that while her parents don’t understand, they are very supportive. “With the stuff I’ve been doing, they are starting to understand more of my ideas and concepts and the things I want to express,” Vang said.

After UW Oshkosh, Vang wants to go to graduate school. She hopes to become a teacher, but also wants to be a successful artist too. “It’s not just my gender or my ethnicity that is defining me,” Vang said. “It’s my art and the ideas behind it.”

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