Yary Livan is a master of Cambodian ceramics and temple ornamentation. These traditional art forms date back to the 11th century during the Angkor Wat era and represent the height of achievement in ornamental bas relief. Due to the Khmer Rouge Genocide of the late 1970s, artists were among those targeted for death by the regime; the living knowledge of Khmer ceramics and temple ornamentation was almost lost. Today, Livan is the only known Cambodian actively carrying on this tradition in the United States. In 2015, he was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship.
Examples of Yary's work including a large sculpture of Buddha, intricately detailed dragon sculptures, and architectural ornamental wood carvings, adorn and enhance worship at the local Buddhist temple in Lowell. It was at this temple that Panit Mai and Yary first met. Speaking of Panit, Yary says, "After knowing him for nearly six months, I saw his passion, commitment, and dedication to this art that mainly derived from his love for his culture, and most importantly, his religion, which is the main aspect of the Angkor style."
Their FY17 apprenticeship will focus on design, drawing, modeling, and carving Khmer forms and shapes, including the mythical goose tail shape, the Chang flower shape, and a large sculpture of Buddha. An additional goal of the apprenticeship is to give back to the community, exposing the younger and more Americanized generation of Asian Americans to Cambodian traditional art.