Sisavanh Phouthavong-Houghton

Sisavanh Phouthavong-Houghton is an Associate Professor of painting at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. She earned her B.F.A. from the University of Kansas and her M.F.A. from Southern Illinois University of Carbondale. Sisavanh is a multi-media artist using classical techniques and materials such as oil paint, encaustic, bronze and wood. She has exhibited her work in solo, juried, and invitational exhibitions throughout United States, Canada, and New Zealand. Currently, she is represented by Tinney Contemporary gallery in Nashville, Tennessee. Her works have been featured in Gwyneth Paltrow’s online journal and in the actress’ personal Nashville loft, Volume #1 of Studio Visit magazine, and recognized among “The New Superstars of Southern Art” by Oxford American – The Southern Magazine of Good Writing. Her research has been funded numerous times by the Tennessee Arts Commission and the generous support of MTSU grants. She continues to give back to the refugee community by partnering with The Frist Center for the Visual Arts’ Educator for Community Engagement, Oasis Center, and CRIT, Center for Refugees+Immigrants of Tennessee.


This new body of work is inspired by the organization Legacies of War ( Their mission statement: "is to raise awareness about the history of the Vietnam War-era bombing in Laos and advocate for the clearance of unexploded bombs, to provide a space for healing the wounds of war, and to create greater hope for a future of peace." As a refugee, the process of connecting and disconnecting with a place or community are abstracted ideas of migration as an immigrant. The collage and painting process is unpredictable and is an ongoing dialogue about assimilating and relocating into another culture and space. The work capture and embrace architecture and built environment in its state of flux. Teetering between realism and abstraction, I fold space and time to connect with the fleeting world. To achieve a kaleidoscopic effect, I employ multiple viewpoints, rhythmic fragmentation, and strong color contrast to fuse both the contemporary and historical landscape elements into one. 

"Sisavanh Phouthavong-Houghton is one of the first professional Lao American visual artists and educators of her generation. Over 7,200 Lao refugees resettled in Tennessee in the aftermath of the Laotian Civil War that ended in 1975. Through her powerful acrylic work, she confronts the challenges of bicultural memory and documentation. She considers notions of the abstract and the concrete for those who must remember both their inner and external histories in a diaspora framed by secrecy and loss. Her work probes what is shared, what is felt, and what must remain deeply personal among the lessons passed on to the next generation as it heals and rebuilds." By Brian Thao Worra: Poet, Writer, Curator, and advocator for the Laotian Community.