The project aims to highlight the Central Valley's Southeast Asian people and their native roots.
Art teacher Marc Patterson says the art project was inspired by last year's "Vida de Las Sombras" project that focused on the immigration stories of Latino students and their families. Patterson says many of the Asian students who took part in the Latino project wanted an opportunity to tell their own families' stories.
It resulted in McLane High School's "Stories of Home: The Southeast Asian Story Project."
The task is a joint effort between English and Art Classes.
"Some family members of students didn't want to tell their story," Patterson said. "They were ashamed; so there is not a lot of documentation of these stories. Fortunately our English teachers taught them some really good interview skills and taught them to pull those stories out."
All together the project will have 40 two- and three-dimensional paintings. Some students are also working on sculptures, poetry, film and even a comic book. All of their work will be showcased in different art shows throughout the state.
"We're establishing different venues from Sacramento to UC Irvine," Patterson said. "We feel that we want to honor the art, the stories and the students that work on the project by spending a little money, a little time to take it on the road."
Patterson says each piece of art is unique and personal because it is inspired from a story told by a Southeast Asian immigrant that came to the Valley. Students have to learn of Hmong, Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese history and culture at a very different level to create the works of art.
McLane High School Senior Adan Diaz created a painting inspired by the story of a McLane High School staff member, who escaped the Cambodian killing fields with his brother and father. His mother and sister died. Diaz said when he heard the man's story he wanted to convey it in art.
"In a way you're him when you're doing this," Diaz said. "People in every culture, they suffer but you never really know how much they suffer until you see it."
Other students like Paola Sanchez were assigned projects that were started by other students from last year's class. She says after seeing the work other students have put in it; she became invested in finishing it before it is ready for the public's eyes.
"It's kind of cool to see how people are going to see our artwork and how long it's taken us to set this goal and finish our masterpiece," Sanchez said.
Some of the artwork will be displayed at Fresno Pacific University on Dec. 2nd. Then the project will travel. Students have to finish their pieces by Dec. 26, in time to be shown at for the Hmong International Year celebration at the Fresno Fairgrounds.