The NIIC 2013 crew is thrilled and honored to invite Huong, a Vietnamese-American artist and activist, to share her beautiful, visionary murals at our conference space this year.
If you live in Miami, you may have seen “Immigration – The Wall of Borders,” an eight-foot high, over 200-foot long mural that speaks not only of her own personal story, but the story of all of us as immigrants. Or perhaps you caught one of Huong’s more than 100 solo exhibits throughout Canada or the United States over her 30-year professional career.
“Immigration” is just one part of Huong’s overall Peace Mural, the culmination of 30 years of searing memories that brings history to life and depicts the universal pain of war and hope for peace. See details. As her website notes, the Peace Mural is over 800 feet in length, comprised of nearly 2000 paintings, and represents an ongoing, developing project as new themes continue to be added.
NIIC 2013 is more than simply a conference, where you should expect to attend, sit, and listen. Similarly, Huong’s Peace Mural is more than simply an art exhibit, but a catalyst to action. It evokes participation and civic engagement, calling forth from viewers a response through reflection, dialogue, and action for peace and justice. Viewers are invited to ‘sign on’ for peace by adding their own thoughts and comments to panels scattered throughout the Peace Mural.
Likewise, NIIC 2013 participants will be asked to help us shape the future of immigrant integration in America. On Monday afternoon, we want you outside in the Miami sun for conference-wide strategy circles and action planning. Throughout our gathering, we’ll be asking you to join our campaign to lower the citizenship fees and calling for local and national citizenship initiatives.
For us, like Huong, immigration is both personal and communal – as media coverage of her work has illuminated, including Foreign Policy in Focus and The Miami Herald. The Peace Mural is an expression of ‘people’s art’ as it informs and shapes civil society and stimulates vibrant participatory democracy.
“When we came to this country as refugees we had nothing,” she told Community Newspapers in Miami. “No clothes, no family, no identity, no country, nothing — only the naked truth. We, like all immigrants throughout history, carried with us just flesh and bone as we started over at the absolute bottom of society.”
“This nation 35 years ago, opened it door for me and my son,” she says. “I hope this door will always open to other needed refugees and immigrants from everywhere in the world.”