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Politics and the Burmese Artist


On March 4, 2010, Shaun Randol sat with Burmese political artist Chaw Ei Thein to discuss the struggles of Burmese artists inside and outside her home country, the artistic process and her work, and Chaw's hopes for Burma's future. freeDimensional and Adelphi University's Levermore Global Scholars Program helped bring the event together.

This freeDimensional Critical Dialogue took place at Adelphi University's Manhattan Campus. Parts 1 and 2 are below.

Produced by The Mantle. Cinematography and editing by The Mantle’s vlogger, Laura Thies. Graphics by Sarah D. Schulman.

As the co-founder and director of the Sunflower Art Gallery in Yangon, Myanmar, Chaw Ei Thein organizes exhibitions and fairs for children and psychiatric patients in Myanmar and Cambodia. She was recently awarded the Elizabeth J. McCormack and Jerome I. Aron Fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council (ACC), and will be an artist-in-residence with the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP) this year. She has also spoken at a number of universities, including School of the Art Institute Chicago (SAIC), Brown University, and the Open Society Institute (OSI) in New York, among others. She received an LL.B. from Rangoon University, Burma in 1994.

More: Chaw's blog; A review of her recent exhibit, Transformed Conversation, at Soapbox Gallery

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Shaun Randol is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Mantle and the co-editor of Gambit: Newer African Writing. He is also an Associate Fellow at the World Policy Institute in New York City, and a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the PEN American Center. His personal website is 

Follow him on Twitter @shaunrandol

Email him at shaun[at]

A native of Germany, Laura has earned her BFA in Musical Theater, a Certificate in Screen Writing, a Certificate in 16mm Film Production, an MA in Media Studies, and an MA in International Affairs. She lives in New York City.

From Laura:
I was born and raised in a tiny village in the south of Germany, where I developed my passion for the arts, especially the theater. At the age of 16 I left for a one-year exchange program in Canada in order to learn English and French, but loving my life away from home and sensing new opportunities, I stayed and finished high school abroad.
At the age of 18, a dream came true when I was accepted to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. After graduating from AMDA I enrolled at the New School, where I found my love for film and video making, and the chance to have my own voice heard. Over the course of five years, I earned a BFA in Musical Theater, a Certificate in Screen Writing, a Certificate in 16mm Film Production, an MA in Media Studies, and an MA in International Affairs.
Seven years ago I came to New York as a girl whose dream it was to be on stage. Still being active in the world of theater, having worked on countless film productions and now understanding much more about the many ways the world turns, I am excited to have finished school, and to go on to do bigger and better things that might make a difference and might change a thing or two about this life. With my unique, theoretical as well as practical knowledge about the theater, the media, and the world, I hope to create powerful projects and works of art to give people a voice, who otherwise would not be heard, and to share the experience I am gaining with those who are interested in learning.