An MTSU professor shared her artistic interpretation of the bombing of Laos and the continuing effect on the nation’s people on a recent edition of the “MTSU On the Record” radio program.
Host Gina Logue’s interview with Sisavanh Phouthavong-Houghton, an associate professor in the university’s Department of Art, first aired July 18 on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and www.wmot.org. You can listen to their conversation above.
Tinney Contemporary Gallery in Nashville displayed Phouthavong-Houghton’s work in February and March. It was inspired by her 2016 meeting with the founder of Legacies of War, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that works to raise awareness of the impact of the Vietnam War in Laos and to remove unexploded ordnance there.
Though she arrived in the United States with her family at the age of 4, Phouthavong-Houghton learned of the horrors by interviewing her father and other family members for a documentary film she produced as an undergraduate.
“It opens up things that people don’t want to discuss,” said Phouthavong-Houghton. “In the Laotian community, it’s really hard for them to open up to you unless they really know you well.”
In a review of her work for Wall Street International, critic Daniel Gauss wrote, “If we look at the best anti-war art, we see a lot of what Houghton is doing, with the big difference that she has had the courage and integrity to take the next step straight into pure abstraction, leaving explanatory figuration for the abstraction behind.”
Between 1964 and 1973, the United States dropped two million tons of bombs on Laos, nearly equal to the 2.1 million tons of bombs the country dropped on Europe and Asia combined in World War II. Some 80 million bombs remain scattered, unexploded, throughout the country, forcing residents to leave much-needed farmland uncultivated and killing or maiming 50 Laotians every year.
You can learn more about Phouthavong-Houghton’s work at her website, www.sisavanhphouthavong.com.
To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at www.mtsunews.com.
For more information about “MTSU On the Record,” contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.