The Manila Times

Filipina artists take center stage

ART might be argued as a maledominated field, but — as with other industries — that doesn’t mean women can’t find their place and thrive using their talents and gifts.

In celebration of International Women’s Month, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation honors four women alumni of the Shell kational Student Art Competition (kSAC) who shared their stories and insights in their journey to become the finest artists in the country today.

Self-realization and dedication to one’s art can mean throwing off some remnants of the past, said Rosario Bitanga-Peralta, Shell kSAC 1957 winner in the watercolor category.

“Earlier art was based on traditional, Western modes, with local adaptations and variations often misunderstood. Today, art is more free, unlimited, and no longer holds on to traditional schools of thought but is more on self-inspiration,” she added. Bitanga-Peralta went on to become the country’s first woman abstractionist after winning Shell kSAC.

Meanwhile, PintaPH founder and Shell kSAC 2013 grand prize winner Katrina Gosiengfiao is keen on developing a stronger art movement that can fuel “a country that is economically successful enough to fund its cultural and heritage conservation sector.”

She echoed Bitanga-Peralta on the aptness of the timing as more “schools of traditional art are springing forth and taking the spotlight while Philippine traditional art becomes integrated into universities.”

Shell kSAC 1993 winner Mailah Baldemor-Balde believes that the ability to connect with like-minded artists can power up Philippine art even more in the digital age.

“Thanks to the help of social media and the Internet, artists can now connect to each other, and see and learn the new trends in art in a more spontaneous way. The themes and subject matters continue to be timely, like climate change and public health.”

Baldemor-Balde is an example of a female artist who recognized and reached for her dream early in life. She comes from a family of artists and learned color harmony before she even knew how to write. She competed in the art scene at an early age before winning a full scholarship for her Shell kSAC entry “Lahar Country”.

This is also true of Davao-based artist Vyankka Balasabas, the 3rd-place winner for her first stop-motion video in Shell kSAC 2015. She was 14 years old when her father bought her a camera.

“I would take pictures of myself in different moods, characters, and themes, and it made me learn how to convey ideas and put them into one image. At that point, I knew I wanted to pursue an art career.”

Currently, Balasabas dabbles with creating crypto art that is focused on showing complexities of human emotions and fantasies.

In ending, the artists gave encouraging messages to young artists who are threading the same path.

Gosiengfiao advised them to create art that is rooted in purpose. “Commit to improving and honing your artistic practice indefinitely — it may bring you to places you never imagined of going. Do things conscientiously and with purpose.”

Bitanga-Peralta exhorted the youth to refine their craftsmanship and rise to the challenges in the global scene.

“Persistence, creativity, production. Study and train on the basics of art, learn art history, and keep up with the world around you. Be aware,” she ended.

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The Manila Times