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An image of an artwork by Sisavanh Phouthavong Houghton. It is an abstract work of square blocks of colour, crossed with images of war.

Daily Helping for May 6th, 2023 – Sisavanh Phouthavong Houghton – Glimpses of Lives Interrupted

I love history. I love reading history books and learning about the past in order to try and make sense of where we are today. But unfortunately, reading about history often involves reading about war. It seems to be the one constant in the history of our species, with a seemingly never-ending list of wars to learn about and process. For example, I recently discovered the work of Sisavanh Phouthavong Houghton, which sent me down a rabbit hole of information about the “Secret War” the US waged against Laos during the Vietnam War. A war where the US dropped more than two tonnes of bombs on Laos, making it the most bombed country in the world per capita. A war that continues to have ramifications today in terms of the millions of unexploded cluster munitions that remain scattered across the countryside.

I must admit that it wasn’t the nicest of rabbit holes to go down. It is always horrifying to read about just how cruel we are capable of being to one another. But it also gave me a deeper appreciation for the beauty of Sisavanh Phouthavong Houghton’s work. I would have loved her pieces regardless. But knowing the context behind them only made them more beautiful. It will always be one of life’s greatest mysteries to me, how war can inspire such beauty. But since we don’t seem to be stopping with war anytime soon, I’ll take the beauty where it comes.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!