Chaw Ei Thein featured in NYFA’s Immigrant Artist Project Newsletter

Posted on March 5, 2012 | No Comments

Chaw Ei Thein (2011 Mentee Alum, Burma), is a painter and performance artist whose work stems from her contrasting experiences of growing up in a politically oppressive Burma and then shifting to a very different landscape in the United States. Chaw Ei’s emotionally charged work of addressing these conflicts in her native country has earned her critical acclaim, awards, and residencies in the U.S. and abroad. However, it has also forced her to live in political exile in which returning to her native country could mean reprisal from the Burmese government. Between her experiences in the U.S. and her desire to return home, Chaw Ei balances multiple tensions in her work. She shares how she deals with her experience and how she has found her Mentorship with Alexandra Pacula in the NYFA Mentoring Program helpful to her artistic career and personal pursuits. The Mentoring Program collaborated with freeDimensional to pair Chaw Ei with her Mentor.

 “I was nominated to participate in the Mentoring Program by   freeDimensional. Since I had to make a decision to live in New York, I  faced a lot of challenges, not only for daily living but also for my artistic career. At that time I felt very scared, worried and confused about starting my career and life again here in the U.S. and especially in New York City where living is expensive and the art field is so competitive. Furthermore, I was trying to engage with a new and different people, culture, language, system and customs for my survival.

When I began the Mentoring Program at NYFA, I found that I was not alone in this situation and with these challenges. All of the artists I met in this program are immigrant artists. I learned a lot about them and how they are trying to survive as artists like I am. During the program I felt that I got back some of the energy that I had when I lived in Burma. And then when I met with my Mentor Alexandra Pacula, I felt like I had received a great opportunity, as my Mentor is generous and helped me with many different aspects of my living and my career. She was also an immigrant from Poland and she shared with me all of her experiences of being an artist in New York.”

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