The Community of Artists is organising an upcoming art exhibition and auction, which will share their passion for art by raising funds for a creative Kampot-based NGO. The event, to be held on December 8 at an exclusive riverside location, will feature the work of eleven of the collective’s talented artists.

The Community of Artists was founded two years ago as a collective made up of people all around the world: Cambodia, Southeast Asia, and the West.

“Their artwork will be displayed at the restaurant, the Waterside. A percentage of all sales will benefit local charity, Epic Arts,” Emily Marques, one of the organisers and painters, told The Post.

She said the artists who will display their work and participate in the charity auction are Mirasol Aguila, Dina Chhan, Sheery Dancona, Anita Keo, Daro Nout, Carlo Santoro, Nou Sary, Suos Sodavy, Chhim Sothy, Artur Kazimierz-Tomaszeski, and herself.

A Phnom Penh-based painter, Marques is originally from the US and has been obsessed with exploring colour and texture from a very young age. With her latest work, she aims to explore the undeniable beauty of nature.

Marques’ inspiration is that of nature: blossoms and glistening light. The two are partners in nature. One cannot live without the other, she said.

The Community of Artists is an informal collective of artists of many disciplines with a commitment to consolidating and promoting Cambodian arts through mutual support and networking.

“We believe that by bringing together our wide range of backgrounds and experiences – Cambodia and expat, emerging and established – we can support and learn from each other while promoting our art across the country and reaching out into the wider region of Southeast Asia,” said Marques.

Founded in 2019 by celebrated local contemporary artist Chhan Dina, the collective’s activities include the organisation of exhibitions and events, workshops, and the sharing of resources and knowledge.

Their first exhibition and auction was held in 2020, titled &Nature Around Us&, it was a great success.

Dina said the Community of Artists was founded to encourage all artists to support one another’s efforts and to link them with opportunities.

“With its twenty members, the collective aims at promoting arts. We expect that our fund-raising auctions will become an annual highlight of the arts’ calendar,” she added.

The collective’s founder wanted all artists to fulfill their visions with a strong will.

“They should pour their hearts their work. As they see the outcome of their passion, they will strive to create more and more, and their knowledge and skills will increase exponentially,” she said.

“I have found that both Cambodian and international artists need the freedom and independence to discover their own commitment to their work. Young artists sometimes lack ambition, but once they discover it, there is nothing that will stop them from dedicating their lives to making art,” she told The Post.

Dina, who was born in Phnom Penh but spent her childhood in a refugee camp near the Thai border, said she had encouraged Marques to become one of the leaders of the collective and drive the other artists on.

“She is committed to promoting the work of the group and encouraging both local people and expats to understand and support the arts community,” she added.

Marques chose Epic Arts as the beneficiary for a percentage of the proceeds, according to Dina, who received the CLMTV Contemporary Art Award from Mahasarakham University in Thailand.

Epic Arts, an international, inclusive arts organisation based in Cambodia and registered as a charity in the UK, works and empowers persons with disabilities to become integral parts of the visual and performing arts community.

“Our last auction raised around $1,000 for another local charity. Although it may seem like a drop in the bucket, it is very much a part of the intention of our collective to give back to the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Dina.

She added that prior to the auctioning off of the members’ latest masterpieces, their work will be exhibited at the venue. Guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres and free flow drinks at the ticketed event, with the auction scheduled for 8pm.

“In the future, we will build a stronger, more powerful community. I envision our more established members working alongside young artists and unlocking their passion for painting, sculpture, photography, film and so on,” she concluded.