Joe Kahn has a great piece in today's Boston Globe about Cambodian Arn Chorn-Pond and the "thinly fictionalized" biography about him by Patricia McCormick. Never Fall Down is Chorn-Pond's story surviving the Khmer Rouge. A single sentence from Kahn's article captures it: "Taken to a work camp, where his talent for playing the flute helped keep him alive, Chorn-Pond witnessed torture, starvation, mass murder, and cannibalism." (Chorn-Pond's flute playing also was featured in the Emmy-nominated documentary, The Flute Player.)
So this might have been just another article that I skimmed, winced at, and filed the book name of for later. But as it happens, Daughter #2, Artist Eliza Stamps, who's traveled to Cambodia twice in the past two years, is now working with Season of Cambodia, "a unique initiative" of Chorn-Pond's nonprofit, Cambodia Living Arts. Season of Cambodia kicks off in NY on April 6 and runs through the end of May. Here's a bit from its website:
Over 125 Cambodian performing and visual artists will fill New York City’s stages, screens, galleries, and public spaces with traditional and contemporary art as part of Season of Cambodia, a multi disciplinary festival produced by Phnom Penh-based non-profit organization Cambodian Living Arts in partnership with vibrant cultural and academic institutions from New York and Cambodia. Season of Cambodia is a program partner of the Clinton Global Initiative, and is made possible by lead grants from the Rockefeller Foundation Cultural Innovation Fund, the Ford Foundation and fiscal sponsorship by New York Foundation for the Arts.
I've thought many times of something Eliza said just after she started working with Chorn-Pond's group. "I've been reading the book [Never Fall Down] on the subway and when I get off, I think how much I wish I could do something about this. And then I remember that I am!" Artist helping artists in endeavor started by an artist. Perhaps art will save us after all.
!And congrats to all involved: Chorn-Pond, McCormick, and Eliza and her colleagues!