Right now, we are living through an extraordinary and worrying time in global history. The current pandemic surrounds us everywhere; on every available communication channel. So art has never been more important in terms of offering beauty and hope. Artist Veasna Tith’s mission is to do exactly that. Her most recent installation of scattered flowers made from metallic cables were displayed at the French Embassy as part of a recent exhibition. She explains her beliefs and approach with Som Kanika.
GT2: Can you let us know briefly about your background and your journey to becoming an artist?
Veasna Tith: After graduating from the Royal University of Fine Arts of Phnom Penh, I trained in art and design and graduated from the Doghua University of Shanghai, China.
Most of my art and design is often found at the edge of plastic experimentation and applied arts, combining culture and the beauty of nature. In 2011, one of my personal exhibitions, KRAMA, was held at the French Institute of Cambodia, where I presented a clothing line produced and based on krama which can be restyled for various occasions. The exhibition went on to be shown in other countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.
My site-specific installation made for the park at the French Embassy is a good example of my approach. I used metallic cables to create scattered flowers and the work’s aim is to give those who see it a sense of serenity and ease. The fragility of the flowers juxtaposes strongly with the material they are made out of and sparks different emotions in the viewer.
GT2: What is the main message you try to convey through your work?
Veasna Tith: My art revolves around the beauty of peace and hope. While many other artists’ work is fuelled by political and environmental issues, as an artist, I want to create light and hope for people to look for in the dark times.
GT2: What is your personal opinion of our country’s cultural art and people’s understanding of it?
Veasna Tith: The majority of Cambodian people undervalue their cultural art, this can be seen when they try to dissuade their children from choosing careers in traditional art. People have no idea that art teaches us many important things like shaping our ideas and providing us with a deeper understanding of our surroundings, emotions and heightening self-awareness. Another blow for attitudes towards artisans is that people often regard them as unworthy because you make less money.
I think understanding art is significant because without involving children with creative art, they would not be able to develop their independent thinking and ideas about everything they encounter. It’s disappointing that a comprehensive art-related class has not been integrated into our educational curriculum. The art of speaking, the art of negotiation, and even the art of becoming a good human being are all bred from the understanding and education of art but we don’t see much effort being put into this area.
GT2: During your time of studying in China, were there any challenges and what did you learn from them?
Veasna Tith: Like every scholarship student, I faced struggles learning about a foreign culture, the language and traditions as well as coping with the demands of my academic studies. But I learnt new things, such as art and design production and market. In Cambodia, we don’t get to study about the commercial aspect of art. However, in in China, they provide many theories and practice regarding marketing opportunites for artists, which is important for their future.
Many of my lecturers had studied in the West, in countries including Italy, Spain and the United States, where the roots of many art and design movements can be traced from. However, art is about creativity and drawing on your own country and culture and China is a rich source for artists like me.
GT2: Do you have a final message for people out there, who may be struggling with the uncertain state of the world?
Veasna Tith: Despite the negative things that have happened recently, I hope that people still remain calm and positive about lies ahead. Try and find serenity by engaging with art and nature. Together, we will get through this phase of turbulence.