Surviving the murderous regime of former Cambodian despot Pol Pot required fortitude and resilience, as well as good fortune. Revealing the strengths and scars from that experience takes another kind of courage, which is now on display in an improbable art show in Santa Rosa.
These women survivors of the Pol Pot Genocide have lived in the Santa Rosa are for more than a generation, but are still coming to terms with they horrors they saw and experienced. When Dr. Lucia Dei Roncalli began meeting regularly with them, a certain amount of experimentation was needed at first, before the "body mapping" approach began to resonate with them. They used Cambodian Buddhist icons and other cultural references, and over time, developed some genuine enthusiasm for their artworks.
Because of the many extreme hardships they endured, Roncalli says was only after their creative spirits were engaged that she began to learn the full extent of their horriffic pasts.
The self-portraits created by the 20 Cambodian women are simple, even crude, in their design and technique. But none of that is important, says artist and gallery owner Mario Uribe, because their emotional power and truth shines through.