Chanta Chea
University of California - San Diego

Art statement:

I use my art to explore a deeper understanding of myself. I had always found it hard to resonate and connect with my Cambodian ethnicity due to my lack of Khmer speaking abilities as well as the lack of fellow Cambodians surrounding me. I felt so disconnected from my culture, and with the little Cambodian population here, it felt like a lost cause. However, when I began picking up drawing, I started to take notice of the art within my culture. I would take note of the paintings lining all the temple walls and found myself fascinated. I decided to take it upon myself to research my culture and emphasize its importance through my art. I have personally found joy in depicting apsaras, a female spirit in Buddhism, which can be seen in some of my work.

I had not only struggled with the ethnicity part of my identity, but with my identity as a whole. I found it difficult to differentiate what I wanted to be versus what I actually was. I then turned to journaling as a means of comfort and expression, which worked exceptionally well. I carried my journaling style, which was typically colorful semi-maximalist collaging (the more the better) onto my art to better display what I had wanted to depict. I always thought my art lacked dimension and depth, just as my thinking, which my newfound style aided in fixing. The sort of maximalism I lean towards requires exploring what I really want to put on the page, which ultimately turns to exploring myself. This style is a rather new one for me, maybe only really turning to it these past few months, but it motivates me to create and I’ve found satisfaction with it; which I hadn’t been able to with my art for awhile. I have found what I am through my art.