The Path--How a Monk Turned into a Hawk

“The Path” is both a spiritual and historical painting. The painting depicts a place in “Ship Mountain” (Phnom Sampeou) in Cambodia, which is lined with Buddhist shrines and a temple. The temple, Wat Sampeou, is approached by 700 stairs that you can see through the bright opening in the cave on the left side of the painting. 


Ship Mountain also has 3 natural caves that were used as killing locations by the Khmer Rouge when they took power in Cambodia in 1980s; a sad and grim genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge under the leadership of Pol Pot.


This painting was inspired by a photograph that my daughter took while serving in the Peace Corp in Cambodia. Originally, the photograph had a monk wearing a bright orange cloth, walking down the path into the cave, possibly on his way to the stairs leading to the temple.

I chose to convey the spirituality and meaning of this place in a universal way, rather than from a religious perspective. I replaced the monk with a bird of prey to symbolize the concept of simultaneous beauty and savageness.

In this composition, the yellow path descends into the dark cave and emerges in the bright light and ascending stairs. This symbolizes the journey of life, when we often have to struggle through dark times to emerge later in a better, brighter place.

This painting is the largest canvas I painted to date--40x30 inch. I hand-built the frame and stretched the canvas myself.  Both original and prints are now available on my website.