A quiet and gentle woman who, in her passion to preserve Cambodia’s traditions and revive the arts, became a friend to countless artists and researchers, passed away this weekend.
Ingrid Muan, co-director of the Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture, died at dawn on Saturday at the International SOS Medical Clinic. She was seven-months pregnant; her unborn child did not survive. Muan was 39 years old.
The medical report on the cause of death had not been released as of Sunday afternoon, said Reyum co-director Ly Daravuth.
“She taught me how to make a living out my art,” said painter Svay Ken. “She was a true friend; her spirit is now in a place of peace and beauty.”
Originally from the US state of Virginia, Muan came to Cambodia in 1994, armed with a doctorate in art history from Columbia University in New York.
She taught at the Royal University of Fine Arts and, in 1998, founded Reyum with Ly Daravuth.
Since then, Reyum has doen research, held exhibitions and published books on life and culture in Cambodia—from traditional tools and mask making, to urban planning.
“All forms of expression fascinated her, be it a poster on the street or crafts at the market,” said Ang Choulean, an ethnologist and a RUFA historical anthropology teacher.
“[Muan] had an enormous determination and a vision that things could be done which other people said were unachievable,” said Helen Jarvis, a researcher and an adviser to the Council of Ministers.
Reyum created an art school for poor children.
“She had a deep love for these young Cambodians who had only known misery and to whom she opened a whole new world,” said Vann Molyvann, the architect who designed the country’s landmarks in the 1960s.
Muan was desperate to find the school’s most talented artists work in the field.
“With her gone, they are left with no hope”, said Vann Molyvann.
“The artistic community has lost a wonderful inspiration,” said Heide Bronke of the US Embassy, which is now funding a project at Reyum.
The cremation ceremony will take place at 3 pm today at Muan’s home on the Mekong River near Wat Kdei Chas. Maps of the location are available at Reyum.