It’s not uncommon for an artist to hold multiple jobs while producing works and exhibiting regularly. Even so, I was surprised when I found out about artist Peerawayt Krasaesom’s decision to work as an art teacher at a youth detention centre as most artists that choose to teach, work at universities or schools. It made me reconsider what motivates people and how they make life choices.
Krasaesom is an emerging Thai artist I first met 5 years ago. He was part of my first curated group show in London. He is talented and not afraid to experiment with new techniques and subject matters. When asked about his eclectic style, he points to his own variable personality traits and characteristics.
I always perceive Krasaesom as a free spirit, so when he decided to work for a government office, it was a surprise. “I know I am not from a wealthy family and would eventually need a more secure job”, Krasaesom explained to me. A realistic outlook I have rarely found in young artists.
Krasaesom believes in the power of teaching and giving something back to society so he took a position as a Scholar and Vocational Training Officer at Ban Mutita Juvenile Vocational Training Center for Boys. He is now working full-time, teaching art and giving career advice to youths who have been convicted and detained for rehabilitation. Most kids are from a poor background or a bad neighbourhood. Some are illiterate and have to be taught basic writing and reading skills. The aim is to equip them with working skills prior to their reintegration to society.
It’s not uncommon for an artist to hold multiple jobs
“I like kids who are always eager to learn things,” said Krasaesom. “One good thing about being in a detention center is that it makes kids more ambitious. You see more value in learning when you lack opportunities. I took this chance to give them everything they wanted to know. For Instance, when I found out there are kids that want to learn drawing, I started a basic drawing class. If some want to skip the basics, I truly understand and let them try until they reach a dead end. That is when I explain to them why a foundation is so crucial. Graphic design is another class I set up as younger generations are more into games and social media.”
Krasaesom is trying to destroy the barrier between teacher and a student. He understands the kids’ aggravations and always teaches them to accept the consequences of their past actions. Once a wild child himself, he understands his pupils. Because of the small age gap, most of them are open to him and consult with him on their life issues and problems.
Krasaesom told me a story of one very impressive student, Bon, aka Haunted Bon. “Bon was assigned to my art class. He was wild, so energetic and always hungry for knowledge. I felt like I had turned a switch in him and all his energy exploded toward creativity.” Bon’s favourite class is guitar making. By the time he left, he exceeded expectations in painting, designing, film shooting and performing.
In every opportunity to find inspiration, I act on it
“Bon once told me he doesn’t want to go back to where he’s from, his old environment. He doesn’t want to make another mistake. I believe him and trust that he would do well in his future choices. I told him to revisit the place and guide others. I look forward to that time, the time he’s ready,” Krasaesom says with a proud expectation.
Although Krasaesom is constantly busy, especially with a daily 50 miles commute to work, he still finds time to create artwork. “Time, resources and opportunity are the three factors that influence my working principles. It is a simple idea. Whenever I have free time, I work on my own art, most nights and Saturdays. When I have money, I spend it on equipment. In every opportunity to find inspiration, I act on it.”
His dreams are modest: to have a studio surrounded by trees and another space for teaching and promoting art to the public. The life he leads inspires others. People always want different things in life but one way to ensure happiness is to follow your dreams while helping others.
As Krasaesom says, “I am happy to be able to make art while at the same time shaping people. I am very satisfied with my choices to walk in parallel on two different paths. Art is what I love and I am lucky to be able to pursue it, so I think it’s time to give something back to society while I still have the strength and resources to do so.”