By Tiny Diapana
Photos: Ernest Diño
EVEN in this day and age where social awareness has become so prevalent that “woke” has become its flagship word, women still have to fight to shatter glass ceilings and break through the boxes they’ve been placed in.
Even in art, women continue to be reduced to caricatures. Muse, prize, wife – when women break out of the labels that bond them they’re called heretics. They’re even called crazy.
Fighting for women who’ve come to the end of their wits, artists Maddy “Astraberry” Boone-Migallos, Kring “The Drawer Kring” Demetrio, Evalu Oliver and Jan Sunday have banded together to present “Loose.”
A striking exhibit by four exceptional female artists, “Loose” tries to offer a different slant of light as it explores the complexities of the female mind.
“Artists, especially those looking to pursue art as a career, need platforms to exercise their creative muscles and witness their own potential progress. Art venues and spaces contribute to the growth of artists and the creative community, encouraging more to go out and take the risk to express themselves,” Sunday explained in an interview with SunStar Weekend. “And that’s what we did, collectively recognizing the struggles we face as women and artists and who have suffered from trauma and mental illnesses and proactively redirecting all that’s pent up to our works. It has been like a compulsory therapy for all of us.”
The art pieces in “Loose” caught much attention during the exhibit opening at Mr. Griddle last Saturday, May 19. The exhibit was packed with guests during the event. The exhibit area itself might not have been as roomy as one might have wanted, but the upstairs room of the venue was enough to fit in all of the different art pieces that make up “Loose .”
One of the most arresting displays was Sunday’s “Residuals.” The only Mixed Media Photography Installation art piece in the room, “Residuals” stood out with a Hangman’s Noose casually hanging over what would seem to be a calm and collected installation area. Around the noose were ordinary household items — chairs, pictures, clothes hanging on the wall. The signs of a disturbed mind come through a mirror smudged with a blurred image of the artist’s self and a damaged vinyl record going on loop.
The intricacy of Demetrio’s pieces also called out for attention at the Exhibit. A collection of art pieces made of graphite, gold marker, and charcoal, the artist’s work can come off as dark and magical. However, underneath the charms of “The Whisperer” and “Here There Be Monsters” is the story of a woman struggling to deal with the negativity around her. Her last piece, “Butterfies from Moths,” shows the artist finally breaking free.
Like Demetrio’s work, Boone-Migallo’s set is also deceptively captivating. Though the artist’s work speaks of the mother that waxes and wanes in beautiful watercolor and colored pencils, if you look close enough you’ll find yourself staring at a dark narrative.
Gathering her son in her arms, the subject bows her head in shame while hands point at her in “Eve” — a painting that presents the unsolicited advice of those judging the artist’s parenting skills. In “Mornight” we see the artist drowning in the tide while her son tumbles around the rocks, oblivious to the danger around him. One of the more calming pieces in the set, “Ebb,” shows the artist resting on calm waters while her husband takes their son in his arms.
Last but not the least is Olivar’s elaborately introspective pen and ink art pieces. Drawn on water color paper, the illustrator, mother, and cook, explores the way inner demons affect the mind. Her pieces “Dolled Up,” “Hanging By,” and the “The Blooming Flowers” all show women in beautiful decay. Broken and torn, the subjects of Oliver’s work are surrounded a bundle of blooming flowers and foliage. The message – there’s still beauty in brokenness.
With so many stunning art pieces that talk about the inner workings of women and mental health, it wasn’t a surprise to see that the opening night for “Loose” gathered so many artists and art lovers together. Though the ladies don’t have any concrete plans for another exhibit like “Loose” this year, Sunday hopes that events like this would become a yearly affair. The exhibit culminated yesterday.
Parting ways with SunStar Weekend, Astraberry has these words of advice for aspiring female artists around Cebu: “Female artists should not be embarrassed when it comes to expressing their femininity in art. And there are plenty of ways of expressing it. Explore those ways and along that, also cultivate your technical skills as well. The more you are confident with your techniques the more you can easily express your ideas.”