December 16, 2015

"Thread of Life" : New mural in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

These are photos of my most recent mural painted in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as part of the Igloo Hong Project. It is based on my photographs of a local Khmer artisan named Moeun Thary, who hand-embroiders traditional Khmer ceremonial garments. The ring of designs behind her is from one of her pieces.
The mural is on the north-facing end of a large housing complex from the 1960s called the White Building, known for its community of low-income tenants and artists. Since I had the opportunity to paint such a large, visible wall in a place where there are seemingly no other large scale murals like it, I felt an extra sense of responsibility to paint something beautiful, meaningful, and uplifting.
This mural honors Cambodia's artists, both contemporary and those lost during the Cambodian genocide of the mid to late 1970s, when nearly all of the country's creative population was targeted and murdered by the regime.
I hope this mural can serve as a respectful tribute to the importance and perseverance of Cambodia's creative legacy, and possibly, in some small way, offer inspiration for younger Cambodian artists to sustain this legacy.

Many thanks to the Igloo Hong project, the David Young Choe Foundation, Moeun, Dave, Matt, Dylan, Chally, Ashley & Ruben at Hotel Omana, Tuan, Paco, Steve, Jason, Kaye, and everyone else that helped make this mural possible. Much love to Cambodia. Shout outs to Aryz, James, Rhode & Esao.
(the 4th, 5th and last photo were taken by Paco Raterta)


Unknown said...

I am sorry that the mural is no longer here. I believe you have seen the responses of our fellow art-loving Cambodians on Facebook, and perhaps on other forums, too. We all appreciate the mural, and believe it should be there intact and to be enjoyed by the people. Many reproach the decision to paint over it, and I believe that besides the small group of people who made this insensitive decision, none of us want your piece deleted.
I invite you to think that even if the piece is gone, its spirit remains. Your choices and efforts matter, I believe, because they achieve what you want them to achieve: Many Cambodians now know about Mrs. Moeun Thary and the wonderful work she is doing. I myself has just known about her. The debate about the lives of the carriers of our traditions—those who carry the “Thread of Life”—is revived again. Most important of all, what has happened proves that we, Cambodians, do stand up for not only our own culture, but also for artworks in general.
Although, your ideas and efforts can no longer be found on the northern wall of the White Building, I believe they live on, in one form or another, in many Cambodians’ mind.
Thank you.

Josh said...

Bitch-slapped by the municipal authorities on a technicality...

Did you guys decide to go ahead and paint it without waiting for official approval?

Seng Chan Serey Pich said...

Hi Mac,

You're a wonderful artist. You're rare. You're talented. You're brilliant.

Your artwork got me very amazed and it saddens me and many other fellow Cambodians on why the authorities decided to take such disrespectful behaviour. I rode all the way to the white building this afternoon, bearing in mind how I should take photo with this great piece of mural, just to disappoint myself later.

Regardless, I would like you to know that this mural spirit is with us, be it visible or not now. Many Cambodian art students have been inspired by you and they yearn to learn more from you.

Thank you for the priceless effort and time you put in during your stay here.

Have a wonderful day ahead.

With warm regards;
Seng Chansereypich

Unknown said...

Hello Mac,
Your painting art "Thread of Life" stays forever in our Khmer heart although It was erased by municipal authorities. This had made us know you and values of our Khmer hand-works, especially Ms Moeun Thary and so meaningful in Khmer traditional life.
I believe that your art will surely affect our Cambodian art-loving and society.

Thank you.
Best regards

Namaste said...

I Love the Cambodian people and their spirit. I too am very sad that this mural and what it represents was erased.
I hope the authorities will in the future let the people of this wonderful city have an outlet for their creativity, beauty and talents.
Celebrate art and all things that are beautiful in this world :)

Maria, a one time resident of Phnom Pehn
A place that will always stay with me in my heart!

Unknown said...

we will remember this mural painting forever even it's been erased. we love and respect u,Mac.
i have nothing to say more than this. coz they've said what i wanna say. hope u can understand us.

Huge love from cambodian.
Danin Krystal

Unknown said...

See my Facebook fotos for the original UNESCO mural.
Image address is ~