Moran Nhel was born in Cambodia, near the border of Vietnam. As a boy, he entertained himself by making figures of animals and army tanks from clay found on the banks of the Mekong River. During the Cambodian Genocide, he escaped to Thailand, and came to the U.S. in 1976 as a refugee.
Moran earned a Dual Bachelor’s Degree in French and Fine Arts, with an emphasis in sculpture at Cal State University, San Bernardino. Over the years, his style has changed from sculpting a single subject in one material – stone, bronze, glass or ceramics; to incorporating a mixture of those media in order to create a complete artistic idea.
“My sculptures symbolize the basic nature of living things. From a simple life form such as a fish to a sophisticated human being, every creature lives in its own habitat. By combining media such as stone, glass, bronze, clay or wood, I translate each living environment into a different stylized shape and form according to the look, texture and feel of the materials used. Glass becomes water, and a wood burl becomes a coral reef. My sculptures are reflections of living things.”