Chan Chao Kalemyo, Burma (Myanmar), b. 1966


Born in Burma (now Myanmar), Chan Chao is best known for his portraits on the Thai-Burmese border in 1996 of students preparing to fight against the military regime of Burma for democracy. He and his family left Burma for the United States in 1978, where he studied under John Gossage at the University of Maryland, College Park. When he turned 30, Chao decided to visit Burma for the first time since his family had left, but he was denied a visa. Instead, he travelled to Thailand and crossed the border illegally into Burma, where he photographed a Burmese rebel camp. The images he captured resulted in two books, Burma: Something Went Wrong and Letter from PLF. He also has a book of female nudes entitled Echo.


Chao’s Burma portraits were included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial, where he was one of 113 participating artists. One of the curators commented, "With Chan Chao's photos, there certainly is a quality of photojournalism… but they are also pieces of art."


Chao’s photographs are in the permanent collection of the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; and LaSalle Bank Photography Collection. His work has been published in Colors Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, GEO Magazine, Culture +Travel Magazine, and The Walrus.


Chan Chao lives in the Washington, DC area. He teaches photography at George Washington University.