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Thitipuk “Looksorn” Teeratrakul with her book

Student Thitipuk “Looksorn” Teeratrakul created a book with her art photography about her Thai heritage. The book she produced for her class was accepted to the Library of Congress. Photo by Alexis Glenn.

Heritage Inspires Book that Lands at Library of Congress

An assignment for a documentary photography class led George Mason University student Thitipuk Teeratrakul to the boyhood home of a king, and led the photo book she created from that trip to the halls of the Library of Congress.

Teeratrakul, better known as Looksorn to her friends and professors at Mason, is a senior majoring in photography in Mason’s School of Art. She wanted to do something related to her Thai heritage for the spring 2014 course, Documentary Photography.

“I realized the king of Thailand was born in Cambridge, Mass. So I started to track him down, like where he used to live,” Teeratrakul says. Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej was born in in 1927 when his father was studying at Harvard. He became king of Thailand in 1946, and still reigns.

Teeratrakul wrote a letter to the current homeowners of Adulyadej’s birthplace, and they gave her permission to photograph the outside of the home. Teeratrakul traveled to Cambridge and took several self-portraits in front of the dwelling, wearing traditional Thai clothing.

Sue Wrbican, the Mason professor teaching the documentary photography class, encouraged Teeratrakul to make a book containing the photos she took for the project. Wrbican suggested she send copies to Carol Ward-Bamford, curator of the Library of Congress’ Musical Instrument Collection. Ward-Bamford added the book to the library’s Thai Musical Instrument Collection. The book was seen by an ambassador from the Embassy of Thailand in Washington, D.C., who asked for a copy. It’s now in the Thai embassy.