Let's Not Go Back to Cambodia

 
 
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In 2010 I was introduced to a Cambodian Genocide survivor, Loung Ung. Her survival story, written in her book "First They Killed My Father", penetrated through me, connecting her war experience to the one my family went through. I was pulled to visit the country and see how people cope with the aftermath of the recent war. In 2013, the George T. Dorsch Award allowed me to travel through Cambodia, meeting locals in small pockets of the country. I explored the traumatic impact of the Pol Pot Regime upon the Khmer people 30 years since the genocide ended in 1979.

 

Upon my return to New York, I reflected on my life-risking travels driven by curiosity. It was important to get involved, bringing awareness and understanding of my audience to the way of life after wars. I began working on a series of large scale portraits titled "Let's Not Go Back to Cambodia", isolating boldly executed subjects in atmospheric darkness. The body of work opens a platform for discussion on the aftermath of mass killings, trauma and cultural displacement. It depicts the bitterness of endurance and resilience for survivors of genocide. Circulating the conversation on today’s and yesterday’s terrors raises consciousness on war repercussions, helps people affected by war cope with their past and plays an influential role in preventing future violence. The conversation is vital for survivors' children, like me, in coping with the lingering trauma present in family dynamics.