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The Terry and Robert Wofford Laotian Image Collection consists of more than 300 images taken in Laos* between 1966 and 1972, during which time Ms. Wofford taught at the International School and Lao-American Association in Vientiane and married Robert (Bob) Wofford, an Air America pilot.
From her travels upcounty, the collection particularly features images of the Hmong, Yao, and other ethnic groups in several villages in Sayaboury province (see images #344-345 for maps of the area), along with Buddhist temple scenes from Luang Prabang, the royal capital. Images from Vientiane, the administrative capital, include the morning market and International School, for example, plus the Mekong River floods of 1966 and 1971. The Air America sub-collection includes a variety of aircraft and aerial images, as well as the Wofford's homes and dogs.
Born in England, Ms. Wofford graduated from college with a degree in design and commercial art. In1964, at age 21, she headed to the United States, first working in California as a commercial artist, then a textile designer creating prints and Jacquard designs for Royal Terry of California, followed by screen print designs for dresses and casual wear for Alfred Shaheen of Hawaii. Continuing her way around the world in1967, she traveled to Asia, and worked as a freelance designer for Jim Thompson's The Thai Silk Company in Bangkok, Thailand. Intending to spend no more than a few days in Vientiane while renewing her Thai Visa, she fell in love with Laos and its people, and accepted a teaching position at the International School.
Ms. Wofford has been a charter member and Artist Fellow with the American Society of Aviation Artists and a member of the Air Force Art Program and the NASA Art Program. It was during her time in Laos, inspired by the unique aviation environment there, that she first became interested in painting aviation subjects. Her paintings are in the Air Force Collection and the NASA Art Collection, and she has had work exhibited at the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum, the Galaxy Center in Florida, and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, among other places. Please see her site, https://www.woffordstudio.com/, for additional information. Several of her SEAiT collection's images are of her paintings of Hmong and Yao people as well as Air America aircraft.
(* The collection includes a few images from Vietnam, where Robert Wofford was stationed for a period in between two assignments in Laos.)
Larry Ashmun is the Southeast Asian and Hmong Studies Bibliographer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Acknowledgements: Violet Thor and MaiGer Moua, former graduate students, greatly aided in preparing the descriptions accompanying the images in conjunction with information provided by Ms. Wofford.