Summer 2020: Thank You No Thank You

Featured Writing 6.05.2020

Thank You No Thank You is a group show featuring 15 artists, including curator Catzie Vilayphonh, whose work touches upon themes of identity for Southeast Asian American refugees of war.

Ranging from the ever-so-present confrontation of being American enough, the deportation of black and brown bodies, or offerings of healing, the group show itself is symbolic of the allyships amongst the immigrant communities from which each artist represents.

As we reflect upon the Vietnam War, we cannot ignore current events either. Anti-blackness in the APIA community and supporting Black Lives Matter are both necessary in the ongoing conversations on how art can continue to be a space for change, and we welcome it.

A Word From The Curator

Today is the official “opening” of my curated show Thank You No Thank You with Asian Arts Initiative. When I first started working on it last year, I knew that because 2020 was the 45th Anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War this was an important topic of dialogue for Southeast Asian Americans. Also, the exhibition would commemorate 5 years of existence for Laos In The House. It was going to be a celebration of sorts.

And then 2020 happened. My father passed away, COVID-19 took over, racial attacks on Asian Americans were on the rise, again. Thank You No Thank You would go from being a full-on physical exhibition, to a limited space gallery event, until finally, a virtual show that would exist only online.

Like all the artists involved, I was asked by AAI to prepare a video statement to accompany the works. It was hard trying to find the words, express my feelings about the show itself and what was happening in the world. I managed to call out a bunch of phrases I felt I could somewhat piece together in a post edit. And then the violent death of George Floyd took place and the world changed again. Unhappy that I had to finish a welcome message that would distract folks from their right to protest and be heard, but too emotionally exhausted to record another statement, I took whatever was left of my pre-recorded footage instead.

-- Catzie Vilayphonh