RE:NEW! installation by Sieng Lee

Throughout October into January, many Hmong families celebrate the incoming of a new year (xyoo tshiab). To celebrate, families partake in a ceremony that releases the old, invites the new, and calls for good fortune and favor with the new year. The young and old alike join together to fold joss paper into spirit money (yaj khaum ceeb khaum). Together, they burn the spirit money to their ancestors in a hopeful exchange for the ancestors’ blessings of good luck, positive energy, and spiritual protection in the new year. 

This installation is symbolic of White Bear Center for the Arts because it borrows from the practice above, the concept of shedding past energies and making space for the fortunes that are yet to come. It represents WBCA’s welcoming of new ideas, new artists, and new levels of creativity. Like the Hmong people’s gratitude and reliance on their ancestors, this work of art commemorates those who have made the rise of WBCA possible. 

In August 2021, Artist Sieng Lee lost his uncle, Wa Leng Lee. Wa Leng was a shaman healer who used the art of ancient shaman practices to heal community members near and far. As an elder who gained his shaman powers long ago in his homeland of Laos, Wa Leng’s skills were rare and hard to come by in our now-modern world. Thus Wa Leng’s death brings not only the profound grief attributed to the loss of a great man, but the grief of having lost access to the wealth of spiritual wisdom and cultural knowledge that Wa Leng carried with him.

Artist Sieng Lee invites participants to leave messages or memories to be left behind but never forgotten. Lift the folded pieces of spirit money up and then write directly onto the work inside of the folded paper. At the end of the installation, all the spirit money will be burned in a public ceremony hosted by WBCA.


RE: NEW! Burning Ceremony

Join us on January 22, 1:00-3:00 PM for RE: NEW! Burning Ceremony

Hmong New Year is celebrated differently in each community. Sieng Lee will take his exhibition and burn the joss papers that people have been writing since WBCA reopened to welcome new energy for the new year. This is a free event. Click HERE for more information and registration.