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Home arrow Mixed Artists arrow Visual Artists arrow Louie Gong: Walking in Two Worlds
Louie Gong: Walking in Two Worlds PDF Print E-mail


Louie Gong is a Native of mixed heritage (Nooksack, Squamish, Chinese, French, Scottish) who was raised by his grandparents, father, step-mom, and extended family both in Ruskin, B.C. and in the Nooksack tribal community. He is totally overwhelmed by recent media recognition of his artwork (Indian Country Today) and activism (MSNBC and Blur Digital) on behalf of people who walk in multiple worlds. “Unreserved: the work of Louie Gong,” a short film that documents Louie’s unique style of merging art and activism, recently premiered at the American Indian Film Festival.

Since graduating from Western Washington University’s School Counseling program in 1999, he has worked as a teacher, child and family therapist, and counseling program coordinator. In all these roles, and in his current position as Education Resource Coordinator for Muckleshoot Tribal College, Louie’s work reflects the need to recognize the dynamic realities of modern life while maintaining a strong cultural identity. This value is also interwoven into his work as adjunct faculty for Northwest Indian College and Evergreen State College, where he teaches classes such a “The Native American Higher Education Experience” and “Mixed Heritage: Thinking outside the box about tribal communities.”
Louie is also a veteran of the nonprofit hustle, and he currently serves as President of the MAVIN Foundation, one of the nation’s leading institutional advocates for mixed heritage people and families. In his work with the MAVIN Foundation, Louie is co-developer of the Mixed Heritage Center, the largest online resource for mixed heritage people and families in the nation, and the guy who kicked off “What are YouTube?,” an online challenge to people of mixed heritage to reclaim the question “What are you?”  His commentary on issues related to the racial identity has appeared in dozens of major news media, including the, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Education Week and many others.

Louie discovered the power of art to express ideas when he effectively used crude but well placed graffiti as a tool for wooing a girl. Around the same time, he started seriously exploring Coast Salish art by painting drums in preparation for the 2006 Canoe Journey.  From that point forward, he started seeing the world in crescents, ovals, and formlines.

In 2009 he found his groove as an artist when – on a whim – he took a sharpie to a pair of Vans.  The resulting merger of Coast Salish art and a pop culture icon like Vans was the perfect statement to represent his complex cultural identity.  When many other folks also recognized the message carried by the shoes, Louie realized he had stumbled upon a new way to spark dialogue about identity. While many are drawn to his shoes because they represent the confluence of multiple worlds, others simply appreciate Coast Salish art or the shoes’ freshness and originality.  Either way, Louie feels honored that people are finding value in something he loves to do.

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