Faraway Home:  Tibetans in Minnesota

July 7, 2023 – Fall 2024

This exhibit highlights Tibetan history, Tibetan resettlement in Minnesota and the refugee experience, Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan art, and the Tibetan community in Minnesota today.  Photographs by both local Tibetan photographer Tenzin Phuntsok Waleag and nationally acclaimed photographer Keri Pickett are featured in the exhibit.

Faraway Home was developed in partnership with local members of the Tibetan community and the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota (TAFM).

Thupten Dadak, founder of the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota (TAFM) was appointed coordinator of the Tibetan Resettlement Project in Minneapolis-St. Paul in 1990 by the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In this role, Thupten, TAFM Board Members, and many recruited Minnesotan volunteers helped establish the 160 original Tibetan immigrants in the Twin Cities, resulting in the growth of the second largest Tibetan community in the U.S.

Nancy Dadak, co-curator with Alyssa Thiede of Faraway Home: Tibetans in Minnesota, has worked as a photographer, art director and content developer, and has lived as a member of the Tibetan community since 1995. Nancy has served as Administrator for Gyuto Wheel of Dharma Monastery for more than twenty years. She is also co-owner with Thupten Dadak of Heart of Tibet, a Tibetan cultural store in Minneapolis.

Tenzin Nordon, a Tibetan-American leader with a passion and mission to bring sustainable change to communities. She immigrated to the United States with her family in 1998 and was brought up in the Minnesotan Tibetan community. Tenzin is a graduate of Carleton College and has an M.A. from St. Catherine University.

Keri Pickett, an artist who has been photographing Tibetans since 1992 when she began her lifelong work of documenting Tibetan Resettlement. She is an award-winning director/producer, photographer, and author interested in family and community in her documentation of life’s commonalities in disparate communities. Keri has received awards from the McKnight Foundation, the Bush Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tenzin Phuntsok Waleag, born in the Bhandara Tibetan Settlement before coming to Minnesota, is a self-taught photographer for over fifteen years whose work has been published on various Tibetan news sites and Minnesota newspapers. As a volunteer photographer for the local Tibetan Community, his career highlight was serving as the official photographer for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to Minnesota in May 2011.

Markell Kiefer, Executive Artistic Director of TigerLion Arts, has created large-scale original productions such as The Buddha Prince, KIPO!, and Nature, which won a regional Emmy® Award. She has worked with Circus Juventas, Minnesota Boychoir, Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota, TPT Twin Cities, Guthrie, CTC, Pillsbury House, Stages Theatre, and UofM/Guthrie BFA Actor Training Program.

Special thanks to TigerLion Arts and The Buddha Prince project for initiating the exhibit and helping to assemble the Faraway Home creative team.

Photo courtesy of Keri Pickett.