Narath Tan is a 1st generation Khmer-American. He is currently a professional artist here in Chicago, specializing in traditional Cambodian art which includes designing facemasks. His work in art was inspired by his great-grandfather, his grandfather, and his uncle who were all artists, and had designed various artwork that includes making the golden crowns for the Cambodian royal family and for the country’s dance troupe.
During the Khmer Rouge period, he was forced to escape from Phnom Penh to the countryside. After the Khmer Rouge dissolved, he returned back to the capital, only to find out that his family’s generations of artwork had been all but missing and destroyed from his former home. Soon after, he attended art school to resume his ambitions to be an artist. He would later flee Cambodia in 1984, and live in a Thai refugee camp for the next 4 years.
After arriving alone in the US in 1988, he came to Chicago and connected with the Cambodian Association of Illinois (CAI). It is through his connection to the association and museum that he has been able to continue his work as an artist, and mentor young Cambodian-Americans about the Cambodian arts and culture through that community space.
In addition to his work as an artist, he works full-time, and has a family of his own.