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INTEND by Tia Keobounpheng

Opening Reception: Saturday, April 15th, from 6-9 PM

Exhibition Runs: April 15 - May 27, 2023

INTEND by Tia Keobounpheng uses the geometry of needlework to move her consciousness beyond binary narratives to imagine a more complex framework of understanding. The work in this exhibition holds the space between intention & impact and speaks to the committed inner work of learning to truly see ourselves in context.  Keoboupheng’s meticulously drawn and stitched paperwork can only be seen in reflections from mirrors on the wall. The messier beauty of the reverse stitching, typically the hidden side, faces the audience. It is her roadmap, her place on earth, her geometry, with precision lines collapsing into frayed edges and loose ends.


Tia Keobounpheng's current body of work started with ancestral research and reclaiming a bloodline that was nearly lost to her family, and through that, seeing her coping mechanisms within the broader story of their lives, within the broader scope of history and systemic forces. It started her search for meaning from snippets of disconnected threads impacted by colonization, migration, assimilation, and white supremacy.


My work emerges from a process of self-reckoning that places me and my ancestry in the context of time - considering epigenetics, colonization, and assimilation to Whiteness. As a white woman and descendant of Finnish and Sami people, I use my practice to reconcile generational patterns that have kept me from seeing the ‘un-see-able.’ My ability to feel their struggle in my veins is soothed by sensing and imagining their complex humanity and learning to truly see my own. My hands help my mind and body notice how easy it is to hold blindly to what I intended without seeing my impact, how easy it is to hold tightly to my pain (to others' impact) without acknowledging their intentions, and how difficult it is to change behavior patterns even with new awareness.


Keobounpheng re-imagines the legacy of her ancestors by conjuring wisdom lost to the forces of dominant culture. The threads do not conceal the drawings below; they attempt to reveal what's been hidden, what is still flowing through her blood, and what still could be.  The work created for INTEND is a reconciliation with herself - with her ancestors and her descendants - through multiplex works that speak about the power of color, fiber, geometry, and abstraction to ignite human energy capable of imagining a decolonized world.


Tia Keobounpheng is a contemporary textile artist using metal & fiber techniques as a language to speak about complex human issues engaging with concepts of epigenetics, ancestral memory, inherited trauma, and historic assimilation to the construct of whiteness. Keobounpheng is a designer/maker and artist living and working in North Minneapolis. She is a recipient of the 2017, 2020, and 2022 MN State Arts Board’s Artist Initiative Grant, the 2018 McKnight Foundation’s Next Step Fund, and the 2023 Folk Arts and Cultural Traditions Grant.  Her work has been exhibited at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis; the Finlandia University Gallery in Hancock, Michigan; the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul; and the Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minnesota. Her laser-cut jewelry has been sold to design retailers nationwide for over a decade. Keobounpheng will have a solo exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art as part of their MAEP program in July 2023 and recently was added to the Minnesota Museum of American Art’s permanent collection through a purchase award at the Minnesota State Fair Fine Art Exhibition.

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