Playwright Mary Swander is a fourth generation Iowan, Poet Laureate of Iowa, and a distinguished professor of English at Iowa State. She worked with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Dennis Chamberlin, and Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival award-winner Matt Foss to create Vang, a two-person play about recent immigrant farmers. Swander and Chamberlin interviewed and photographed recent Iowa immigrant farmers from many countries. Then Swander wound their words together to form a verbatim play that captures the farmers’ journeys to the U.S., and their challenges and successes as new farmers. Vang means “garden” or “farm” in Hmong.
This lecture is part of our How the Other Half Lives exhibit programming, which focuses on the public’s perceptions of who immigrants are, what their lives entail and how they contribute to community both in the early 20th century and now into the 21st century.