News Release

Three U of M faculty honored with 2023 Guggenheim Fellowships

Aerial view of the Twin Cities campus and Mississippi River

In recognition of their prior accomplishments and exceptional promise, three U of M faculty from the College of Liberal Arts have been awarded 2023 Guggenheim Fellowships. The trio is among just 171 honorees from around the nation selected by a rigorous peer review process from nearly 2,500 applicants. According to Forbes, the University of Minnesota is among the top ten institutions with affiliated winners this year. 

The honorees are: 

  • Pao Houa Her, assistant professor of Photography and Moving Images, recognized in photography.
  • Tetsuya Yamada, professor of Ceramics, recognized in fine arts.
  • Kao Kalia Yang, Edelstein-Keller Writer-in-Residence in English, recognized in general nonfiction.

“It is a great honor to count Professors Yamada, Her, and Yang as members of the University of Minnesota community,” said U of M Executive Vice President and Provost Rachel T.A. Croson. “I am delighted to see their hard work and dedication recognized in this way. It’s a wonderful reminder to us all that the University promotes and values research and creative activity, and that both are important and excellent. All of this year’s Fellows employ their media to explore and share their cultural heritage in exciting and moving ways, and are highly deserving of this national recognition.”

Pao Houa Her is a Hmong American artist whose practice engages primarily with legacies and potentials of landscape, portraiture, and documentary photographic traditions and aesthetics, creating works that examine identity, longing and belonging in Hmong diasporic communities.

A prizewinner in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition (2022), Her was the recipient of the McKnight Visual Artists Fellowship (2022 and 2016), and the Jerome Fellowship for Emerging Artists (2019). Notable public collections include the Singapore Art Museum and the Walker Art Center. 

Her was born in Laos in 1982 and raised in Minnesota. She holds an MFA in Photography from the Yale University School of Art (2012) and a BFA in Photography from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (2009). 

“For my Guggenheim fellowship, I will be researching the notion of a Hmong homeland through different Hmong communities in the world,” she said. 

Tetsuya Yamada was born in Tokyo and is based in Minneapolis. He received his MFA from Alfred University in 1997. He has participated in artist residency programs in Wisconsin, Philadelphia and the Netherlands. He is a recipient of the Tiffany Award (2001), the McKnight Fellowship for Ceramic Artists as administered by The Northern Clay Center (2005), the McKnight Artist Fellowships for Visual Artists as administered by the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (2014/2019), and the Grand Prize at the Gyeonggi International Ceramix Biennale in South Korea (2011).

In his current work, Yamada is observing the connections between Giuseppe Penone’s 2003 sculpture Idee di Pietra and the famous dry garden of rocks and clay walls at the Ryoan-ji Zen temple in Kyoto, built five centuries earlier. 

“I’m intrigued by the way these two elegantly simple works resonate,” he said.

Kao Kalia Yang is the author of three memoirs, of which two won Minnesota Book Awards for creative nonfiction: The Latehomecomer and The Song Poet. Her young adult memoir, A Story of Our Own, will be published in 2025 with Holiday House/Margaret Ferguson Books. Yang has also published five children's books including From the Tops of the Trees, which won the 2023 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature - Picture Book. In 2022, Yang was awarded the A. P. Anderson Award for Outstanding Contributions to Literature and the Arts in Minnesota.

As Edelstein-Keller Writer-in-Residence, Yang has taught graduate-level workshops in the MFA program and has been an advocate and mentor for students. Recently, she wrote the libretto for the opera The Song Poet, adapted from her Minnesota Book Award-winning memoir, which received its world premiere at the Minnesota Opera in March 2023.

Visit for a full list of the 2023 Guggenheim Fellows. 

Media Contacts

Christopher Kelly

University Public Relations