Jear Keokham is an artist, writer, educator, and independent curator. He was born in 1992 in Oakland, CA and currently lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Keokham is the son of factory workers who originally met in Paris. His parents had relocated as asylum seekers—the mother was trying to escape impoverished hardships of Hong Kong while the father was looking for life away from wartime destruction in Laos. Keokham’s late paternal grandmother withstood refugee camp conditions in Thailand until the U.S. welcomed her immigration in 1978. Later, she successfully petitioned for family reunification by 1989.

He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2018 with a BA in Art Practice and a Minor in History of Art. His academic emphasis was in contemporary art from a global perspectie while his studio focus was in socially engaged and experimental processes. Keokham was recognized for High Distinction in General Scholarship from the College of Letters & Science, inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, and awarded a Certificate of Excellence in New Genres by the Department of Practice of Art.

He was a 2017 Creative Dissent Fellow in Escuela de Arte Útil at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the 2018 Summer Curatorial Intern for Contemporary Art at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He has been included in exhibitions at the Worth Ryder Art Gallery in Berkeley, Southern Exposure, and Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco, and various alternative art spaces throughout the Bay Area.

Fundamentally, Keokham identifies as a cultural accelerator to detest the hierarchy of labels. In other words, he does not prioritize any particular practice over another and sees each role as non-exclusive mutual-extensions of each other. Keokham adopts and applies various theoretical schemas in his work to further disrupt any sense of a singular canonical geneagology or modus operandi.

He has described this way of thinking and art making as a neoliterati practice, an independent study that renovates the Chinese literati tradition where truth, beauty, and virtue are the aims of art (藝術; yìshù) and aesthetics (美學; měixué). Admittedly lost in translation amd purposefully appropriated, Keokham uses the label as a permission slip to hyperfocus on the intersections of scholarship and artmaking or the study and the studio.

Philosophy, politics, and popular culture are anchorpoints in his artistic and academic lexicon. Often times, humor and poetic tropes will surface as conveniences in some work while critical intensities are central to others. With a concentration that can shift from being pseudo in nature or pragmatic in means, Keokham marries elements of unlikely harmony to confront power structures, social stratifications, and symbolic positionalities through populist yet cryptic gestures.

In the most simplest form, Keokham's guide to art making is that his work needs not to be understood as art in order for it to function and that function itself needs not to be a prerequisite. The meditation of this principle allows Keokham to maintain a continued aspiration toward both the Zen (禪; Chán) notion of the artless art and the Aristotilean contemplative freedom.