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Prof. Nick Rine discusses a Cambodian artist's vision

By Katie Vloet

When U-M Museum of Art officials needed more information about a sculpture they had acquired, which was made in Cambodia of decommissioned weapons, they asked Clinical Professor of Law Nick Rine for help. Rine and his wife spend much of their time in Cambodia, so they were able to meet with the artist, Ouk Chim Vichet, in person on a recent visit. Their conversation led to a greater understanding of the meaning behind the sculpture, Apsara Warrior.

Watch a video of Prof. Rine at the Museum of Art, talking about Apsara Warrior.

The piece had become a favorite of tour groups, especially schoolchildren, who were drawn to the giant female deity made of detonated AK-47s from Cambodia's 25-year civil war. Docents at the museum previously knew little about the sculpture, until Rine filled in the gaps.

"In traditional Cambodian art, there are figures known as apsaras, which do a kind of dance that is a strenuous and graceful sort of ballet," Rine notes. "This figure is aggressive and is in a somewhat uncharacteristic pose, and she is breaking an automatic rifle. The apsara is going to conquer brutality with beauty and grace."

The piece came about through the Peace Arts Project Cambodia, which was designed to promote nonviolence and young Cambodian artists.

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