When I met with Anh-Hoa Thi Nguyen last October to brainstorm ideas for an artist-in-residence project at the 2018 Floating Library, I walked away from our 3 hour lunch with a notebook full of ideas. She shared memories of walking around Como Lake with her family as a kid. We talked about poetry and the problems of publishing. We talked about the complexities of contextualizing and honoring native land while making a project about immigrants and refugees. We talked in metaphor about “catch and release” as a strategy for healing. We talked about boats as vehicles of freedom, survival and life.
Over the winter months of continued conversation and as Anh-Hoa participated in the Twin Cities PBS MN Remembers Vietnam 360 Library Series, what emerged as her piece for this year’s Library is a hybrid visual art, poetry, engagement project. Waves Enfolding: A Paper Memorial invites the public to help fold a collection of 1,000 paper boats to commemorate the lives lost during the Vietnamese refugee waves of 1954 and after The War in Vietnam and South East Asia from 1975-1992.
By sitting and folding paper together, we create a representation of a person that was unaccounted for – father, mother, sister, brother – while prompting a consideration of the refugee crisis that is currently taking place on other waters in other boats.
Several boat folding workshops and discussions took place this spring, including the one pictured above at the East Side Freedom Library. During the run of the Floating Library, come fold boats or read about Vietnamese refugee journeys on Lake Phalen Beach: Sundays, July 22 & 29, 1-4 pm.
Waves Enfolding concludes on the final day of the Library with a closing reception and lake-side reading.
Sunday, August 5
2:30 – 4:00 pm – Final Boat Making & Reception at Minnesota Humanities Center, 987 Ivy Avenue East, St. Paul, MN 55106
4:00 pm – Reading/Ritual at Lake Phalen beach