Photograph of Thép Thavonsouk with some of his paintings, 2005

Photograph of Thép Thavonsouk with some of his paintings, 2005.

“Today I am blessed to make my life as an artist.”

Glenbow Museum
Glenbow Museum, Thép Thavonsouk
2005
Hanoi, VIET NAM
TAIWAN, PROVINCE OF CHINA
Lethbridge, Alberta, CANADA
FRANCE
Vientiane, LAO PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
© 2005, Glenbow Museum/Thép Thavonsouk. All Rights Reserved.


I was born on September 20, 1947 in the administrative capital of Laos, called Viengchan or Vientiane, which means the city of sandalwood.

My dad was educated in the French system in France and in Laos. My paternal grandfather was a physician, educated in French in Hanoi. This was during the height of French colonialism.

I was the number one son in a family of eight children. I was expected to get an education, go to university abroad, and move towards a career with the government or in business.

In 1972, after university, I met and married a Canadian woman from Lethbridge.

I flourish in Canada. I love the seasons, which Laos doesn’t have. But I need to go back to Laos annually to be inspired for my artwork.

I had an opportunity [in] Taiwan to study Chinese painting every summer for six years.

Today I am blessed to make my life as an artist.

My Laotian heritage will always have an impact on what I do, and who I am. I celebrate that heritage – those heritages, actually, since I am from many places.

I was born on September 20, 1947 in the administrative capital of Laos, called Viengchan or Vientiane, which means the city of sandalwood.

My dad was educated in the French system in France and in Laos. My paternal grandfather was a physician, educated in French in Hanoi. This was during the height of French colonialism.

I was the number one son in a family of eight children. I was expected to get an education, go to university abroad, and move towards a career with the government or in business.

In 1972, after university, I met and married a Canadian woman from Lethbridge.

I flourish in Canada. I love the seasons, which Laos doesn’t have. But I need to go back to Laos annually to be inspired for my artwork.

I had an opportunity [in] Taiwan to study Chinese painting every summer for six years.

Today I am blessed to make my life as an artist.

My Laotian heritage will always have an impact on what I do, and who I am. I celebrate that heritage – those heritages, actually, since I am from many places.

© 2005, Glenbow Museum. All Rights Reserved.

June Rain 5, 2003, oil on canvas, 45" x 60", Collection of the Artist

June Rain 5, 2003, oil on canvas
45" x 60", Collection of the Artist.

June is the rainiest month both in Calgary and Laos. Thép refers to his June Rain series as “borderless.”

Thép Thavonsouk
Thép Thavonsouk, Glenbow Museum
2003
TAIWAN, PROVINCE OF CHINA
Vientiane, LAO PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Lethbridge, Alberta, CANADA
Hanoi, VIET NAM
FRANCE
© 2003, Thép Thavonsouk. All Rights Reserved.


Audio Clip (1:04 mins, 1 MB wma file) Thép describes his gratitude for having two places to call home.

Whether I am here or I am in Laos, I always feel at home and being in Canada and being with Canadians, reminds me a lot of my life in Laos meaning that, unlike some other places, where you feel like you have to look over your shoulder, living in Canada is to me, one of the paradises on earth and I have lived in a lot of places.

I don’t have to worry about being attacked whether it is through racial discrimination or whether it is through physical violence.

I don’t know whether it is because of the way I am as a Buddhist or as just a peaceful human being, perhaps the feeling people capture from my being is that I am in a good place and I like the space where I am in and it is the same when I get back from Laos.

I feel like I am the luckiest person in the world to be living in two paradises and one of themis here in Canada.

Thép Thavonsouk
Thép Thavonsouk, Glenbow Museum

Vientiane, LAO PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
TAIWAN, PROVINCE OF CHINA
Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
FRANCE
Hanoi, VIET NAM
Lethbridge, Alberta, CANADA
© 2005, Thép Thavonsouk. All Rights Reserved.


Globalization has expanded definitions of citizenship, identity and home. Thép Thavonsouk is a citizen of the world.

Thép Thavonsouk's Story:

I was born on September 20, 1947 in the administrative capital of Laos, called Viengchan or Vientiane, which means the city of sandalwood.

My dad was educated in the French system in France and in Laos. My paternal grandfather was a physician, educated in French in Hanoi. This was during the height of French colonialism.

I was the number one son in a family of eight children. I was expected to get an education, go to university abroad, and move towards a career with the government or in business.

In 1972, after university, I met and married a Canadian woman from Lethbridge.

I flourish in Canada. I love the seasons, which Laos doesn’t have. But I need to go back to Laos annually to be inspired for my artwork.

I had an opportunity [in] Taiwan to study Chinese painting every summer for six years.

Today I am blessed to make my life as an artist.

My Laotian heritage will always have an impact on what I do, and who I am. I celebrate that heritage – those heritages, actually, since I am from many places.

Thep's Audio Clip:

Whether I am here or I am in Laos, I always feel at home and being in Canada and being with Canadians reminds me a lot of my life in Laos, meaning that unlike some other places where you feel like you have to look over your shoulder living in Canada is to me, one of the paradises on earth and I have lived in a lot of places. I don’t have to worry about being attacked whether it is through racial discrimination or whether it is through physical violence. I don’t know whether it is because of the way I am as a Buddhist or as just a peaceful human being, perhaps the feeling people capture from my being is I am in a good place and I like the space where I am in and it is the same when I get back from Laos. I feel like I am the luckiest person in the world to be living in two paradises and one of them is here in Canada.


Taking Action:

How do you measure quality of life? Share and discuss your perspective on quality of life with your class. Do you share perspectives about quality of life with others in your class? Are some of your ideas different?

Thép has shared some of the positive aspects of embracing different perspectives on quality of life. Can you think of any negative aspects to embracing different perspectives?


Resources for Further Study:

Refugees
CBC site with clips about the Boat People.
http://archives.cbc.ca/IDD-1-69-524/life_society/boat_people/

Teachers Resource Package about Refugees
http://www.unac.org/learn/wrld/Refugees/FINAL%20ENGLISH%20GUIDE.pdf

Human Rights
International Declaration of Human Rights.
http://www.un.org/rights/

Teacher and student friendly version of the International Declaration of Human Rights.
http://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus/humanrights/index.asp

Charter of Rights and Freedoms
http://www.pch.gc.ca/progs/pdp-hrp/canada/guide/index_e.cfm

Vietnam War
http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/learning_history/vietnam/vietnam_teacher.cfm

Cambodia
A PBS site that provides links and resources about the Khmer Rouge and contemporary life in Cambodia.
http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/cambodia/links.html

Thailand
An overview of Thailand on Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand

Laos
An overview of Laos on Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laos

Extended biographical information about Thép.
http://www.junerain.com/en/about.php

China
CBC site with clips about Chinese immigration to Canada.
http://archives.cbc.ca/IDD-1-69-1433/life_society/chinese_immigration/

Glenbow Museum
Thép Thavonsouk, Glenbow Museum, Rare Method
2006
Lethbridge, Alberta, CANADA
Hanoi, VIET NAM
FRANCE
Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Vientiane, LAO PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
TAIWAN, PROVINCE OF CHINA
© 2006, Glenbow Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Students will recognize and appreciate the impact of globalization on the quality of life of individuals and communities while exploring various understandings of quality of life.

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