ON MOTHERHOOD: MANIVONE NONTHAVETH
Artist and filmmaker
"I thought I had lost myself in a way in the beginning. I mean there's so many emotions. But I realized I didn't lose myself, there's just more layers to me now."
The only American-born child of three, Manivone's mother was pregnant with her when she immigrated from a refugee camp in Thailand. Leaving behind a war torn past in Laos, her family arrived in Denver, Colorado. Living in America challenged her to assimilate and simultaneously afforded her educational opportunities - a dual process that developed her notion of self and sense as an artist, making her the versatile woman she is today. Now, a mother of two, Manivone lives in Brooklyn.
You in a word—
I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. I currently reside in Brooklyn, New York.
"There's a million more stories I could share but these adversities made me stronger."
I am a visual artist. The act of creating with my hands and materializing ideas is personally meditative. Art has always been a part of who I am since before I could remember. My father, sister and brother were also... growing up.
On a formative memory—
Being bullied in school and coping with being so different absolutely helped shape me. The first day of school, the kids taunted me, chanting “Chinese, Japanese” as they stretched their eyes out, up and down. Our neighbors wrote “You’re going to Hell” on our driveway when they found out we were Buddhists. There’s a million more stories I could share but these adversities made me stronger.
"I think the most important thing in being a mother is forgiving yourself for not being able to do and be everything all at once."
I am the only American born and the youngest of three. In fact, my mother was pregnant with me when my family arrived in the states from a refugee camp in Thailand. Being a child of an immigrant family and trying to find self-identity was very difficult balancing the polar cultural differences of our native country, Laos, and the demands to assimilate in America. My parents, as well as the Lao community, provided a strong foundation in finding pride in tradition and culture while appreciating the opportunities and education in America.
"I’m a much more enriched artist with less time."
On the intersection of motherhood and work—
It’s funny, I vowed to my parents that I had no desire of getting married nor having children. Then, I became a mother and my heart was filled with insurmountable love that I never knew existed before my daughter. Even though motherhood was so hard, especially without the help of family, having to come to terms with all the sacrifices, when I look at her, I feel so thankful I took this path. I thought I had lost myself in a way in the beginning. I mean there’s so many emotions. But I realized I didn’t lose myself, there’s just more layers to me now. I’m a much more enriched artist with less time, lol. Additionally, now that I have two girls, there’s double the love! And my daughter is ecstatic to be a big sister!
Now as a mother of two, I will clearly need to really strategize to make time for myself, for my art and of course for some date nights or just dinner with friends. But like with the first, it’ll be the same with the second. When people ask, “How do you manage it all?” Or “How do you do it?”, I say like Nike, you “just do it.” As mothers, it’s innate for us to rise to the occasion.
My oldest is five and now she is truly miss independent. Once she was old enough for daycare and school, I started to really have freedom and time to focus on my work again. Before our recent newborn, I was proud to say I accomplished a lot, and I know I’ll return to making more time for my art once the newbie gets a little bigger. I think the most important thing in being a mother is forgiving yourself for not being able to do and be everything all at once. I’ve learned to embrace this tender and precious time while she’s a baby and I’ll look forward to me time... soon.
On the next 12 months—
Being able to travel and having time to create again. I’m hoping I can make new art and collaborate on making more films. Also it’ll be me and hubby’s 10th anniversary of being together (not marriage anniversary) at the end of the year. It’ll be fun to celebrate.
On what matters most—
The most precious thing in my life is my family. The most precious object I own is my “thip khao” or my sticky rice basket.
"I express my love by being present. Listening..."
A fun fact about you—
I had a pet nickname that my grandma gave me when I was born and it stuck. I was teased throughout my years in school and I never cared for it. When I was accepted into a magnet program at a high school instead of my zoned school, I realized I could start from scratch since no one really from my middle school would know me. So at that point I started going by my real name, Manivone. And of course I still got teased. You can ask what it was, but I’ll never tell . .
My favorite thing about ARTICLE22 is that there is history in every piece of jewelry. ARTICLE22 is rooted in sustainability and transformation in that they have taken something so terribly bad and created something that is so beautifully good. With that said, my favorite pieces are the “peacebomb” pendant and “the fruit of life.”