Sisavanh Phouthavong Houghton
Art and Design Professor Sisavanh Houghton teaches Figure Painting, Mixed Media Painting, and Advanced Art Painting Practices. She is a Lao American mixed-media artist whose refugee and immigrant experiences post-Vietnam War era inform her artwork.
I was born in Laos and immigrated at the age of four and with no real memories of
fleeing for my life and spending the next two years in the refugee camps in Nong Khai,
Thailand. I have no memories of screaming my head off when they took my father away
or released him to spare me from death. My first distinctive memory was someone wrapping
a coat around me because I was cold in San Francisco. I remembered being photographed
by the local journalist upon our arrival. My story is nothing different from thousands
of other immigrants fleeing from war or oppression. It is not romantic or ethereal,
but instead a true act of survival and full of pathos.
My work as a 1.5 generation Post-Vietnam War Lao American refugee immigrant is about
these subtle memories, distinctive images, and fragments of time. It's about the collective
Southeast Asian diasporic voices that are the driving force and empower me to celebrate
my culture and diversity. The projects' goals are to preserve and educate the public
about the untold stories, the forgotten Secret War on Laos, and our journey. The refugee
immigration photographs are a testament that we are not another number but a reflection
of war and humanity's consequences. It is about the larger context of not denying
that war is a constant factor in our lives and how this discussion resonates with
everyone. These challenging discussions have led me to continue a body of work with
an open dialogue.
Sisavanh Phouthavong Houghton is a Lao American mixed media visual artist born in Vientiane, Laos. Her artworks have been exhibited nationally at venues including the Minnesota Museum of American Art, Asian Arts Initiative, Hunter Museum of American Art, Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, Huntsville Museum of Art, The Reece Museum, and upcoming exhibitions at Gadsden Museum of Art. As a refugee and immigrant from the post-Vietnam War era, these experiences are the driving force behind her body of work. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street International, Houston Voyager, ShoutoutHTX, Click_Bait, Create Magazine, Studio Visit Magazine, The Tennessean, The Pinch Journal Publication, Voices of America, and The Next Door Neighbor.
She has been a guest on Art Fight Podcast, The Art of Outreach, and Drawing South. Permanent collections include Hunter Museum of American Art, American Embassy, Paramaribo, Suriname; Legacies of War Office, Washington, D.C.; Tennessee State Museum; and Pinnacle Bank Headquarter, Nashville, TN. Houghton earned her BFA from the University of Kansas and MFA at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, IL. She was recently nominated for the Joan Mitchell Foundation Arts Award 2020, a 2019 Artfields' Painting Award, and the 2017 Tennessee Arts Individual Artist Fellowship recipient. Sisavanh lives and works at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and a Professor of Painting at Middle Tennessee State University. Houghton has won a MTSU’s Teacher of the Year Award and her research has been funded numerous times by the Tennessee Arts Commission and the generous support of MTSU grants.
She has lead community art projects with non-profit organizations such as SEAD (South East Asian Diaspora), Legacies of War, The Frist Art Museum, Oasis Center, and CRIT, Center for Refugees+Immigrants of Tennessee. She is represented by Tinney Contemporary gallery in Nashville, and more information can be found on her website: https://www.sisavanhphouthavong.com
Sisavanh Houghton Mixed Media