JavaArts, US Embassy Launch Competition for Female Artists

The US Embassy and JavaArts launched the first visual arts competition for Cambodian female artists on Friday.

Open to artists and arts students, the You Khin Memorial Wo­­­­­­­men’s Art Prize is meant to show­case Cambodian women as well as their work, said Dana Langlois of JavaArts, the arts arm of Java Cafe.

“I thought it was very important to bring out their role in society in the local media, and get them social recognition, positive social recognition, for being an artist, which has not really been the case for a lot of women artists here,” she said Friday.

“This contest will help women artists, I hope,” Khchao Touch, a female Cambodian artist, said Friday. “Women artists get little support in Cambodia…. People think creating art is so difficult that only men can do it, not women.”

To illustrate her point, Ms Touch explained that, as she was coming down from Battambang City to Phnom Penh for the event last week, a man on the bus asked her who had done the paintings she was bringing. When she told him it was her work, the man did not believe her. “I asked him why and he said, ‘Oh, I think it’s only a job for men, not a job for women,’” she recalled.

The Royal University of Fine Arts and several arts and culture organizations throughout the country will distribute information and help artists apply for the contest, Ms Langlois said.

Artists have until April 28 in the provinces and May 2 in Phnom Penh to submit their works at four locations: Java Cafe in Phnom Penh, the NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang City, the McDermott Gallery in Siem Reap City, and the NGO Epic Arts Cam­bodia in Kampot City.

The winners will be announced toward the end of May, Ms Lang­lois said. Prizes will be awarded for the best work by an artist, the best work by an art student, and 10 honorable mentions will go to other notable works.

The competition is named after the late artist You Khin whose work often featured women and their lives.

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