Women in Art
January 10 – May 09, 2008

unknownThe Museum celebrates the important contributions of women in the visual arts, their varied perspectives on different subjects or themes will be featured in an exhibition titled WOMEN IN ART.

The exhibition will show works of prominent Filipino women artists that include range of artists' diversity in age, background, and art training.

The participating artists are all proven artists and well-established in their professions. Their maturity, confidence and relevance are reflected in their two- and three-dimensional works.

Selected artworks from the Wili and Doreen Fernandez and DLSU Art Gallery collections, and loaned works of some Filipino women artists like Ivi Avellana-Cosio, Araceli Dans, Brenda Fajardo, Virginia Ty-Navarro, Rosario Bitanga, Alma Quinto, and Nena Saguil will be featured in the exhibition.

The objective of the exhibition is to promote women's creativity and artistic expressions. It hopes to inspire and challenge women to pursue their career in the visual arts.

Exhibition Notes

by Marjorie Evasco

The primacy of the Artist - she who lives through the challenges of her life and creates her art from these inner territories in new lines, colors, shapes, textures—is the core of this exhibit's celebration. The agon implied by the exhibit's proposition of yoking the terms "woman" and "artist" suggests that many trite constructs about artists, if they happen to be women, need to be re-examined, wrestled with and dismantled when these do not serve the higher purpose of knowing Beauty and Truth.

Placed between the two terms, the preposition "in" shows the relational aspect of the 'how' of seeing: a careful configuration of the specific vision of the artist, the position of the subject and that of the viewer. Moreover, the positioning of the works within the museum space invites another aspect in the act of reflective seeing — an appreciation of the connections provided by the work of one artist in relation to other works in the exhibit in terms of style, motifs, aesthetics and advocacy, among others.

With "Yakan" by Ivi Avellana-Cosio (1992), imbued with the tribal colors of earth and the cursives of the Filipino syllabary or alibata, we plumb the depths of our ancient memory of a written language almost forgotten and nearly forfeited. Next to this canvas is the free-standing sculpture "Filipina 1898 #9 (Filipina 3)" by Julie Lluch (1998), and we recognize in the kneeling mother's body, her arms around her child, her face and stance defiant against an aggressor, a language that roots us not only in the History of the nation, but also in the story of our day to day struggle to protect what we love, and persist in looking terror in the eye.

This representation of female strength and grace, whether she is in the archetypal bond between mother and child in Araceli Dans' bronze bas relief "Mag-Ina" (2002), in the playful paper collage "Seated Woman" (1999) of Inday Cadapan, or in meditative aloneness in the watercolor painting "Madonna of the Sampaguita" (1994), is the qualitative continuum in the harmonics of women depicted working together in the oil on wood "Five Women" (1962) by Araceli Dans, and in the luminous oil paintings of Anita Magsaysay-Ho like "Women with Baskets" (1975) and "Seashore" (1969).

Side by side with the world of female communal relationships is the world of nature, and Anita Magsaysay-Ho's untitled watercolors of flowers (1990) show themselves as paradigms of the fine and meticulous rendering of eye and hand, just as Ivi Avellana-Cosio's mixed media "Mamanok" (2005) offers the bold shapes, colors and textures of the indigenous Filipino's collective mythic imagination.

Virginia Ty-Navarro's "Amrita" in oil captures what is memorable in the human gaze, while her "Nude Torso" and "Tantrum" metal cast sculptures (both, 1970) evoke the dramatic tension between movement and stillness in the human body. Genara Banzon, who uses her own process of paper making and ways of etching photographs in her work, plays with a thought-provoking layering of forms, as is shown in the mixed media "Homage to a National Scientist" (1989), and the works of pastel and collage on wood like "Iba ang amoy ng/Do bananas smell more than the jackfruits?", "Kailangan ko ang iyong patnubay/After death we carry on", and "Tadhana at unos/Veins of a leaf hand prints and a Tinggian No Man under the rain" (All, 1987-88), and "Filipinas West Australia" (1987-1989).

Art and Advocacy for women's empowerment open a vital space for artists like Evelyn Collantes, Brenda Fajardo, Norma Belleza and Alma Quinto. In their works is the dynamic reinforcement of visual images and visually scripted words, the latter explicitly articulating the politics the art is advocating. There is Collantes' "Hadlangan ang mga abuso ng M at P" (1984) a pen and ink that confronts the issue of an unfettered police force and military might in pre-People Power Philippines. Norma Belleza's representation of rural farming families in her oil painting "Mother and Child" (1996), and Alma Quinto's tapestries "Limang Kwento: Maria, Lolita, Zenaida, Mariam and Alma"(2000) bear witness to the stories of the lives of women as they struggle to fulfill their roles as mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters. Her soft sculptures stand, sit, swim, crawl or fly, even as these offer the chance to the viewer to hug "Alma" or "Maria" (both 2000), or play with "Ahas" (2003), "Isda ba Ako?" (2005), "Freak" (2005) and "Tutubi" (2005).

Four of Fajardo's acrylic paintings reconfigure the narratives of apocalyptic vision, this time of four women riding mystical horses, representing ethical verities. One rides the pale horse of pure peace in "Apokalipsis: Maputlang Kabayo/Kalayaang Dalisay"; another rides the black horse of justice in "Apokalipsis: Itim na Kabayo: Tinimbang ngunit kulang"; a third rides the white horse of transformative wisdom in "Apokalipsis: Puting Kabayo/Pagbabago ng diwa"; and a fourth rides the red horse of renewed consciousness in "Apokalipsis: Pulang Kabayo/Banyuhay ng Kaisipan"(all, 2005)

Abstract artworks by Paz Abad-Santos, Rosario Bitanga-Peralta and Jeane Marie Syjuco spark the reach of our human articulation of spiritual longing. The fiber mixed media "Infinity Mourning" (1983), marks Abad-Santos' artistic journey towards the medium and style that continues to engage and vivify her imagination.  Rosario Bitanga-Peralta's stainless steel and resin sculptures "Circle in a Spiral" (2002) and "Sanctuary" (2003) are tangible shapes of the vowels of heart-awe and ache. And two untitled acrylic paintings by Jean Marie Syjuco (1985; U.D.) make visible the vertical and horizontal scale of tones through which our breath, our inspiration, lifts us to the blue, or enables us to open the navel of our ochre earth to let the tree of life grow again in the space of pure being.

In this field of time encompassing more than two centuries of art making by women in the Philippines, we listen to many names resound their triumph over silence and the trick of forgetting. From the halls of the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura in the 19th century, we acknowledge the life and work of its first female art student, Pelagia Mendoza y Gitianquin (Datuin, M. 2002:79), and from her we trace an unbroken lineage of artists up to our times, in this exhibit as in many others elsewhere, who continue to do the work of showing in visual symbols of meaningfulness how life may be lived in imaginable beauty.

Collateral Activities

February 8

  • Poetry Reading
    Guest Poets: Dr. Marjorie Evasco and Ms. Ida Del Mundo
    1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
    The Museum Main Gallery

February 22

  • Conversation with the Artists
    Guests Artists: Ms. Rosario Bitanga and Ms. Alma Quinto
    1:00 – 2:30
    The Museum Main Gallery

March 7

  • Art Talk: Artist as Art Educator
    Invited Artist/Art Educator
    2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
    The Museum Main Gallery
  • Reception in celebration of Women's Day (by invitation)
    4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
    The Museum Main Gallery