Wednesday, April 30, 2008


IN-CLASS: TH 5/1, T 5/6, TH 5/8
DUE: TH 5/8
CRITIQUE: TH 5/8, T 5/13

Malakas and Maganda is one of a number of origin tales about how native Filipinos came to be.

One version:
When Bathala (God) was done creating the world, he was bored. He looked down over the earth and sent a bird into the world. The bird was flying around when it heard some sounds and tapping somewhere in the forest.The bird landed and found out that the sound is coming from a huge bamboo. He started pecking on it and pretty soon it split in the middle where a man came out of it. His name was Malakas, which means strong, and he told the bird, "My mate is in the other piece of wood." They got her out and her name was Maganda which means beautiful. The two got on the bird's back and flew away to find some place to live. They went flying around the world, and then finally, the bird saw a land and let the two giants set foot and live on it. When Malakas and Maganda stepped on the land their weight separated the land into islands (Philippines has 7,200 islands). Malakas and Maganda live on and produced millions of children, which came to be the Filipinos.

Another version:
Legend has it that the first Filipino man and woman were born from a bamboo stalk. They both had brown skin and supple bodies. The man was named Malakas, or "Strong One"; the woman, Maganda, or the "Beautiful One." Two traits which make the Filipino unique among its Asian neighbors -- their strength and resiliency despite a lot of adversity and trials which come their way; and their beauty which is reflected in their surroundings.

As the final project for a Filipino American Arts course, I am not asking you to literally illustrate the Malakas and Maganda legend, but I would like you to consider the nature of creation and cultural production in whatever aspect suits you best. For example, “Strength” and “Beauty” in this origin tale are gendered symbols of what makes creation possible, but how do these 2 words manifest most compellingly for you? Additionally, how do hybridity, mestizaje, and many other forms of synthesis play into a very contemporary sense of creation and growth?

This project can be as political, aesthetic and/or idealistic as you see fit: rage and hope are not mutually exclusive-- they are both galvanizing forces in creation. There is ample space for interpreting this project critically, formally and optimistically. Your artwork need not focus explicitly on Filipino content, but if it does, that’s absolutely fine. Given all of the things you’ve absorbed in this class, I would ask that you do explicitly address the connection between what you make and its relationship to what you’ve learned in Fil-Am Arts in your artist statement, which should be a bit longer (1 to 2 full pages, typed, double-spaced) than previous statements.

As you begin this project, please consider the guest artists, gallery visit to Bag’o/Neo, and other artists, readings and resources that we’ve covered in the past few weeks:

Charles Valoroso, Su Llamado, Stephanie Syjuco, Eliza Barrios and Renetta Sitoy were our guest speakers. The Bag’o/Neo show included works by Filipino artists Emily Caisip, John Yoyogi Fortes, Eliza Barrios, Cirilo Domine, and Pauletta Chanco. We looked at work in class by Chris Ferreria, Paul Pfeiffer, Michelle Lopez, Ariel Erestingcol, Gina Osterloh, and Gigi-Otalvaro Hormillosa. Su Llamado gave us a great information download on Roberto Villanueva and the Baguio Arts Guild. Let’s also not forget the artists on the Worlds In Collision website, as well as the artists you chose to write your papers on. You may find it helpful to refer to the most recent readings by Carol Becker, Dana Friis-Hansen, Gigi Otalvaro-Hormillosa, and Sabrina Alcantara-Tan, or to go further back to other readings that inspired you.

Project 3 is an opportunity for you to sift through these resources and inspirations and create work that may go in a wide array of directions: strength and beauty can be symbols of hope, faith, resistance, rebellion. You are free to interpret this broadly.

Project 3 is the final for this class: your artwork should be approached as the culmination of what you’ve learned in here. Your content should be stronger, the increased time and effort you put into this project should be evident, and your technical execution should demonstrate growth from your 2 prior projects.

Project 3 can be in any visual arts medium: this is your opportunity to experiment with other forms, strategies and media, so long as it feels appropriate and relevant to your project. Please continue to push yourself beyond your comfort zone with whatever material you choose.

Project 3 should look like the culmination of 2-3 weeks of deep work, regardless of materials chosen. Your work should look completely resolved by its due date. If you are confused about this project, please set up a meeting with me.

Project 3 is due Thursday 5/8, with critiques split over 5/8 and 5/13. Since we have more class-time on 5/13, to accommodate slightly longer, more complex discussions about each other’s work, critiques will be longer this time: 15-ish minutes each.

Criteria for success on Project 3:
  • Creative and intellectual interpretation of “Malakas at Maganda” as the theme
  • Engagement with notions of hybridity and mestizaje, literally or figuratively
  • Synthesis of materials covered in the last 1/3 of Fil-Am Arts
  • Materials/media/execution appropriate to your project
  • Evidence of engagement and complex investment in idea, theme and execution
  • Technical and artistic growth since Projects 1 and 2
  • 2-3 weeks of deep work, effort and investment (12-13 hours minimum)
  • fully-resolved work
  • longer, more complex written reflection/artist statement (1-2 pages typed, double-spaced)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Project 2 Artwork

Here are 8 of the 26 works of art created for
Project 2: Marginality as Resistance
The full project description can be found here.

Project 2 AI:
"Sweet Philippines"

For the second project, I had a chance to consider how can I make an artwork by using at least one non-traditional art material. It was a challenging project because I did not guts to use pig blood or Cheetos for my artwork. So then, I decided to use something sweet: Sugar.

Sugar is one of the most profitable exports the Philippines. The origin of the sugar industry is actually linked to the slavery and colonialism in Africa to Caribbean. The European colonialists brought almost 12 million sugar canes from West Africa to the Caribbean with slavery from 1450 to 1900. Having a lot of workers was necessary since sugar cane is a delicate plant. During harvest season, slaves were worked every single second till their death. Back then sugar has become major commodity after the introduction of tea, coffee, and chocolate. Westerners demanded sugar and it became an important export product. Since then, the sugar industry became popular in the colonies.

Nevertheless, the Filipino sugar industry has nothing to do with the slave trade, but it does relate to the colonization. In the 1860s, Negros Occidental was the leading sugar producing province in the Philippine during Spanish colonization. By the early 1900s, the sugar industry was well established by the American colonialists. They boosted the industry and export to the states became much easier by establishing Payne-Aldrich Act. The Act created a situation in which the gap between rich and poor grew even greater in Philippines. I thought this history of sugar industry is one of the most striking symbols of Filipino colonization. Now the Sugar is one of most important agriculture products in the Philippines.

For my project, I made cookies in the shape of the Filipino islands. Also, I made a cake with on illustration of the Filipino flag. Cookies and cake are the magical snacks that charms everybody, especially kids. During the colonial period when colonial powers competed against each other for control of the profitable industry, just how Westerners demanded sugar, kids today compete against each other to obtain big piece of cake and cookies. Also, sweet desserts are Filipinos favorite. Sugar has been a valuable seasoning in Filipino cuisine; there are different varieties of sweets. And they grow up with sugar. I tried to make a reflection of the sweetness of the Philippines, how others demanded to take over it, and to alter it into sweets by using their profitable product: cookies and cake.

Project 2 DFM:
video still, "Conversations with Women"

In this project of “writing” back to center, I have considered the histories of women in general, and explicitly dealt with both the personal and political implications of relinquishing one’s power. I began this project by interpreting different strategies and philosophies female artists have used to respond to the history of oppression inflicted upon women by both men and themselves. I specifically took note of the Toni Morrison essay in which she spoke of her writing as a means of pulling the veil aside over hidden histories of peoples whose “interior” lives were never exposed. Morrison spoke of how critical it is to discover truths about one’s ancestors, especially for any person who belongs to any marginalized category. Because women are among those who have been marginalized, (arguably the first marginalized group), its important for women to participate in “the discourse even when we [are] its topic.” (Morrison) It’s imperative for women to articulate and reclaim their identities from men and from the cultural stereotypes they themselves uphold.

My project is a 4 1/2 minute long video piece, transferred onto VHS. The piece entitled “Conversations with Women” is a Reappropriation Narrative of the female condition. It begins with footage of Senator Clinton from a Democratic primary debate, in which she mentions her feelings have been hurt. I incorporated this footage multiple times in my piece. I believe it is up to each individual woman to define herself - women aren’t as helpless or as powerless as they/it’s believed. I sought out footage of young women and girls from film and the internet to produce a broad linear construction of what women are perpetually identified as to answer questions of/inquire further - inherent female colonialism. I shot these images with my DV camera and manipulated/recontextualized them in iMovie.

Project 2 ST:

Project 2 Val Fernandez:

This piece is an expansion of a previous project of mine completed last year. It is the visual accompaniment to a fifteen page analysis paper on the Native Guns song “Work It” which reflects on the relationship between first world economies and their violation of labor rights of third world, developing economies. In this piece, I am no longer Valerie, the Filipino American Arts Student. “My name is Marie, age thirteen. At the age of eighteen [I’ll] be learning to dance for dirty Japanese businessmen, money for the family.” I am a shoemaker at the Nike factory and I am just trying to survive with the cards dealt to me in this game called life.

I have altered my experience as a shoemaker in one significant way, one that differs greatly from Marie’s. The material used for my shoe (a banana leaf) symbolizes the indigenous materials of the Philippines, in contrast to the man-made materials used to construct modern-day shoes. This piece is an attack on the exploitation of young children and the loss of culture and identity due to this exploitation. I know it is not at all comparable to the work that the real life “Maries” put in during their jobs, but this shoe-making process served not only as an art project for me, but rather, more as a personal reflection on my appreciation for the cards that have been dealt to me in my own life.

Project 2 CJA:

Project 2 NNC:
Project 2 PC:

Project 2 KB: