Elephants of Asia

The Sculptor

Paul WendlingPaul Wendling

Paul Wendling creates several styles of fine art, from jewelry miniatures for museums and private collectors (using gold, precious gems, etc.), to scale models, to display sculptures (in the grand staircases of all the newest Royal Caribbean cruise ships), and artistic sculptures for public venues. He also owns a company that creates special effects for the movie industry as well as original jeweled art and high-end gifts.

Wendling has recently undertaken art commissions for private Hollywood parties, museums, and international collectors. Recent commissions include collectors Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Travolta, Gary Sinise, and Tom Cruise. International collectors vary from the Sultan of Brunei to the Italian Navy admiralty. Last year, Wendling was chosen to represent Absolut Vodka in their latest advertising campaign.

His works can be viewed in the Kobe Airport International in Japan, Disney Cruise Lines’ main terminal in Florida, and the Bay Harbor Yacht Club in Michigan; as well as in museums worldwide, including the Smithsonian and the Louvre. He is currently preparing for an exhibition of his smaller high-end (Fabergé style) art pieces in Palm Springs art galleries. 

Elephant of the Earth

Zofia KostyrkoZofia Kostyrko

The Artist
Zofia Kostyrko is a classically trained artist, designer, and conceptual thinker. Born and raised in Warsaw, Poland, she followed her creative dreams across the world with a one-way journey into the celluloid Oz of sunny California.

Among many creative adventures since her touch-down in the City of Angels, Kostyrko was an illustrator, art director and senior conceptual designer at Disney’s WDI for a lucky 13 years, creating and building Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida. She has conceived ideas for Cirque du Soleil; made props for the kids TV show Pee-Wee’s Playhouse; created sets and theatrical costumes for stage; and designed, illustrated, and produced children books and zoo and museum exhibits all over the world. She always looks for any excuse to make art—bold, beautiful, meaningful, different.

Kostyrko is highly accomplished in using both the traditional techniques (oil, acrylics, pastels, mixed media, and paper sculpture) and a wide range of digital drawing, painting, and modeling tools.

A conservationist at heart and in practice, Kostyrko lives in an old California bungalow surrounded by a wild native garden in Altadena, sharing her time between illustration and painting, running her design studio, and developing new ideas with her photographer husband Charles, daughters Vero and Lara, stray cat Boo, and genius dog Nina.

The Elephant
This elephant is an artistic rendering of an imaginary dream quest through the Earth’s endangered web of life. The elephant’s skin becomes an illustrative tapestry symbolically depicting Earth’s key environments—aquatic and terrestrial—and weaving together their flora and fauna. The base of the sculpture is Water, the source of all life on our planet. Selected aquatic creatures—fish, turtles, coral—are rendered within stylized waves. The elephant figure represents the Land with its diverse terrestrial environments. Starting at its feet is lush, green rainforest that gradually transforms into arid, bleached yellow desert sands as it reaches the apex of its back. The elephant’s highest point, the top of its head, becomes a snowy peak. Within each environment area—from the jungle through the desert and up to the snow—key animal species are depicted among the foliage and sands. They all look at the viewer, startled in a wondrous encounter and silent plea for us to take action and protect their—and our—dreams and hopes for a shared future of life on Earth.

Elephants of India

Iyengar FamilySuresh Iyengar

The Artist
Born in Dharwar, India, Suresh Iyengar is a prolific sculptor, painter, and craftsman. Having been a visual artist since childhood, he has enhanced his skills by attending sculpture workshops in Pietrasanta, Italy; Cambria; and Los Angeles. Since 2004, he has been a contributing artist and sculptor for the City of Burbank Rose Parade Float.

His artistic works have been part of several productions of the Rangoli Foundation for Art & Culture, as well as other site-specific concerts, museums, events, installations, and weddings all over California. His sculptures and paintings are also part of a private collection. A recipient of several distinctions and awards, Iyengar has received multiple nominations for outstanding achievement in set design by the Los Angeles–based Lester Horton Dance Award Committee. He is a member of the Pasadena Society of Artists.  

In addition to being an artist and a dentist by profession, Iyengar is an avid jogger. He trains regularly and has run more than 150 marathons all over the world. His best time in completing a marathon is 3 hours and 18 minutes.

The Elephant
Iyengar considers it an honor to be able to represent his heritage and culture in painting an elephant for the L.A. Zoo’s Elephants of Asia project. His inspiration for the elephant painting came from the mosaic designs, paisleys, florals, frescoes, textiles, temples, and traditional floor designs seen all over India. He was assisted by visual artists Malathi Iyengar and Lakshmi Iyengar.

Elephants of Cambodia

Sayon SyprasoeuthSayon Syprasoeuth 

The Artist
Syprasoeuth is a mixed-media installation artist living and working in Garden Grove, California. He was raised in Thai refugee camps. In 1979 his family was sponsored by a Lutheran church in Iowa to come live in the United States.

He enjoys learning and put himself through college by working as a cashier, courier, illustrator, and graphic designer. Syprasoeuth graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2003 and Claremont Graduate University in 2007.

His works have been shown in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; China; Berlin; Los Angeles; and throughout the United States.  

The Elephant
Syprasoeuth’s vision for the elephant was to show Cambodia’s vibrant and rich culture through symbols of the country—royalty, the world-famous Angkor Wat, and the Aspara dancers. “The three images are inseparable,” he says. "They include intricate and detailed patterns.” He adds, “I would like the elephant to look organic, with natural colors and vibrancy—adding details of floral patterns to connect the drawing to Cambodia’s heritage in colors, patterns, and symbols.”

Aragna KerAragna Ker

The Artist
A native of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Aragna Ker was born in 1974. He immigrated to Southern California in 1981, at the age of six. After graduating high school in Los Angeles, Ker relocated to attend San Francisco Art Institute. He graduated with a B.F.A. in Painting in 1999. In 2004, he received his M.F.A. in Sculpture at Claremont Graduate University. Essential experiences serve as a springboard for Ker’s methodology. His playful works fuse cultural symbols and myth to explore the vast range of hybrid identities. His drawings and sculptures utilize the potency of motive to curiously attack simplistic materials in order to exploit them beyond their ordinary function. The United States Embassy in Cambodia, the Hammer Museum, the Pacific Asian Art Museum, Happy Lion Gallery, and Sabina Lee Gallery are just some of the institutions that have exhibited his work. Ker is currently employed as an art instructor at First Street Gallery Art Center in Claremont, providing artistic instruction to adults with disabilities.

The Elephant
Angkor Wat, as shown on the elephant painting, is a religious temple built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. Angkor Wat was completely abandoned in the 16th century and was rediscovered by Henri Mouhot, a French explorer, in the mid-19th century. Upon his observation, Mouhot noted: “One of these temples—a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michelangelo—might take an honorable place beside our most beautiful buildings. It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged.” The Asian elephant’s great strength and ability to work under human instruction allowed it to play a vital role in the construction of Angkor Wat. This temple symbolizes a great height of human potential. Asian elephants symbolize a creature’s adaptability in order to aid human endeavors. Angkor Wat and Asian elephants have parallel symbolism because both are giant in structure and highly intellectualized. Most of all, both have found their existence inevitably fragile. Through conservation and preservation, perhaps these wonders will both be able to withstand the test of time. Ker was inspired by the challenges that these two symbols possess and wanted to create a symbiotic relationship between them. He chose to depict Angkor Wat on the Asian elephant to serve as protective costume. In Mouhot’s notes, he describes Angkor Wat as grand as any architecture he had ever seen in the world. But did he ever note which creature helped to erect this magnificent monument?

Elephants of Thailand

Boonrueng KetpongsudaBoonrueng Ketpongsuda 

The Artist
Boonrueng Ketpongsuda was born in 1955 to a farming family in Chachoengsao, Thailand. He graduated from Bangkok Technical Institute with an emphasis on industrial technical training in 1975. Within a few years he moved to Los Angeles, where he studied electronic technology at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. More recently, he has been studying art at Los Angeles Valley College—continuing an interest that was piqued while taking a Thai Classical art class at Wat Thai of Los Angeles. As a consistent volunteer for the Thai community in Los Angeles, Ketpongsuda has helped orchestrate the annual Thai Cultural Day in Thai Town for the past 18 years. He has been recognized by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for his ongoing dedication to the Thai community.

The Elephant
The inspiration for his elephant design stems from his ongoing interest in the Thai classical arts, along with help from friend and well-known Thai artist Vasan Sitthiket. The motifs he chose for the elephant were pulled from decorative elements of classical Thai architecture, sculpture, painting, and pottery. These motifs are most notably known for their intricate design, representing the natural environmental beauty of Thailand. These elements are connected to Thai culture through Thailand’s Buddhist history, reflecting Buddhist philosophies of karma and the transience of life.

Patchara WonprasatPatchara Wonprasat 

The Artist
Patchara Wonprasat, a freelance visual artist and art instructor, was born in Thailand and came to the United States in 1979. She received a Diploma of Fine Arts at The Art and Craft College in Bangkok, Thailand.  In 2005, Wonprasat was honored by The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco’s "Asia Alive" program. As a professional artist, she has produced many art exhibitions here in the U.S. and in Europe.

The Elephant
The Thai name for Wonprasat’s elephant sculpture is Dok –Pudtan. Wonprasat believes that Pud -Tan flowers are amazingly beautiful flowers. These white flowers turn a pretty pink when they bloom. Many Thai artists incorporate Pud -Tan flowers into patterns for their Thai designs. Wonprasat elected to paint Thai flowers on her sculpture because she deeply wanted to represent Thai culture and spirit with her designs; making the sculpture elegant and charming.  She hopes everyone will enjoy her work. 

Elephants of China

Phung HuynhPhung Huynh

The Artist
Born in Vietnam in 1977, Phung Huynh immigrated to the United States in 1978. Huynh graduated from the Art Center College of Design in 1999 with a B.F.A. in illustration. In 2001, she earned an M.F.A. in studio art from New York University.  Since receiving her degrees, Huynh has been featured in solo and group exhibitions all over the United States. She has served on a number of reputable commissions, including those for Rolling Stone magazine, American Airlines, and the Community Redevelopment Agency in Los Angeles.  Huynh currently lives in Los Angeles and is a full-time faculty member at Los Angeles Valley College, an adjunct faculty member at East Los Angeles College, and chair of the art department at Ribét Academy.

The Elephant
Huynh’s elephant statue represents China and focuses on the relationship between the Dai people and elephants. She has included peacock motifs symbolizing good fortune, happiness, beauty, and kindness; lotus flowers referencing the Buddhist religion of the Dai people; water referring to the water splashing festival; and Dai geometric designs.

Cindy SuriyaniCindy Suriyani (Me Xian Qiu)

The Artist
Cindy Suriyani is a photographer, installation and mixed-media artist based in Los Angeles. She was born in the town of Pekalongan, on the island of Java in Indonesia, to a third generation Chinese minority family. At birth, Suriyani was given various names in preparation for societal collapse and variant potential futures. She had a Chinese name, an American name, an Indonesian name given by her parents, and a Catholic name bestowed by the local priest. In response to political pressures, the family moved to the United States. She was moved back and forth several times as a child, and has visited China five times in recent years. Suriyani’s work has been featured in exhibits in the United States, Mexico, and Europe.

The Elephant
One of the most popular folk arts in China is paper cuts, often done using red paper. They were originally used in making sacrifices to ancestors and immortals, or as molds for embroidery. There are many regions that specialize in this art form, including the Dai, Yangzhou, and Ansai. There is an element of the elephant that looks like an intricate paper cutout, which illustrates a story of the elephant’s coexistence with the Dai. Dai legend has it that the planting of bamboo and banana trees brings in the elephants and repels the tigers. The elephant sculpture features traditional Chinese and Dai designs, cutouts of the golden phoenix, dragon, and peacock, as well as the elephant foot drum dance. The elephant was painted using traditional Chinese and Dai colors. 

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