“ NOT FOR SALE

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Katelyn Kopenhaver: Artist

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I AM NOT FOR SALE

 

Photo: Neal Santos

"Sabaidee Wandering Soul"

The quote is from my visual poem “s.o.s. in reverse”, inspired by my experiences meeting other Laotians. As a refugee living in America (especially one whose history had not been celebrated or even acknowledged) I had always felt lost about my identity and meeting other Lao people helped me find a sense of “home”. Sometimes it was life-changing and other times not so pleasant, but it always seems necessary to seek out other people like me, so we could learn our histories together.

The lines on the bracelet are from the section that talks about the thread-tying ceremony, the sukwon, which translates to “calling of the souls”. In a sense those chance meetings were like blessings for my soul and each person brought me a little closer to home. The Lao script literally translates to “Have you arrived home yet?” but in the poem I loosely interpret it as “How close are you to home?” because for refugees like myself, getting “home” is a journey that can take many trips, and some of us may still be on that quest.

As an immigrant, I know my parents are the only link to the country of which our culture and heritage come from so sharing their stories is how I honor them. As an artist I feel most proud of my work when it represents my experiences and the people who’ve inspired them get to see it. As a mom I know that I am giving my daughter that history that I never got to have growing up. As Founder of Laos In The House, I am always in awe of the stories we hold when we’re given the chance to share them.


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Our artisan partners are entrepreneurs and agents of change. Each piece helps MAG (Mines Advisory Group) clear some of the 80 million unexploded bombs from their land.

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