Chia Kue

Chia Kue with skirtBorn in Siankhoung Khanvan, Laos, in a Green Hmong family in 1948, Ms. Kue learned needlework and how to make things for herself. She remembers that it took her two years to be able to learn how to cross stitch. By the age of seven, she knew how to sew all the patterns necessary to make the traditional Green Hmong woman's skirt. Later, she learned how to paint the fabric with wax to create guidelines for the embroidery, to dye the fabric, and finally to make the skirt and to create her own patterns. Soon she surpassed her mother in skill and people came to learn from her. Her needlework talents were widely recognized among her people. In Laos, Ms. Kue had been a housewife and farmer with five children. Because of the war in Laos, in 1975 she and her family migrated to Thailand, eventually resettling in Philadelphia. She has taught many traditional folk arts to young people in the Hmong community here, both informally and with the support of grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. In addition to needlework and traditional poetry and song, Ms. Kue carves fruits and vegetables into intricate shapes; this aspect of Ms. Kue's artistry is described in a PFP magazine article. Her work was included in the 2007 PFP exhibition of Hmong community textiles, "We try to be strong."