Hour Seyha was born in a refugee camp in Thailand but returned to Cambodia as a child. To support his impoverished family, he was forced to drop out of school in grade six and cross the border back into Thailand to do menial jobs, at times illegally—a period that deeply defined him.
He hauled logs on rubber plantations and picked pineapples to make ends meet, at one point narrowly escaping arrest by Thai authorities. When he returned home as a homesick, unaccompanied 15-year-old, a non-governmental organization helped him go back to school and take art classes in Battambang.
His highly emotive paintings in muted reds, yellows, and blues are packed full of symbols of his difficult time as a child laborer. Footprints represent wounds, flip flops symbolize slavery, while the color red expresses fear. His pictures have titles such as Struggle and Hunger.