The latest exhibit at Merced College is a blend of Western and Eastern art that delves into the people and history of Cambodia and other parts of Asia.
“Rebirth of a People” features the art of Gerald Huth, an artist based in Forestville, Sonoma County. His mixed-media collages and paintings have incorporated Asian papers and alphabets.
“A lot was inspired by my experience in Cambodia,” the 66-year-old said.
All of the works hanging in the college gallery were made in the last six years, but inspiration goes back to about 40 years’ worth of Huth’s travels in Asia. “I just got to know about the country, about the culture,” he said. “There was a tremendous sense of optimism.”
Huth said the Southeast Asian country of Cambodia is filled with beautiful artwork, like the giant sculptures in the Bayon temple or those displayed at Angkor Wat. Huth’s work also incorporates the country’s dark history.
During the Khmer Rouge’s four years in power in the late 1970s, communist leader Pol Pot’s forces killed as many as an estimated 2 million people in the Cambodian genocide. The Khmer Rouge kept records on the people it executed, including pictures of children before they were killed.
Huth incorporates the images in pieces like “Forgotten People,” which puts the photos together with the Tibetan alphabet to form one of those giant sculptures seen at the Bayon temple.
The artist said he was touched by the country’s ability to look forward and not be dragged down by the genocidal history. “That’s one of the wonderful things about Buddhism,” he said.
Huth, originally from New York, studied at University of Pennsylvania and fine arts college Ecole des Beaux Arts d’Avignon, France. He’s shown his work in galleries around the world.
The show is set to be up through Thursday, April 21. The Merced College Gallery at 3600 M St. is open 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and by appointment.