The Philippine Visual Arts Festival was launched recently in Santiago City, Isabela, with a series of workshops and lectures in mural painting, installation art and performance art, aimed at the city’s students, with creative works as the final output.
Held in time for the National Arts Month, the event was a project of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Santiago Living Tradition Foundation and the city government led by Mayor Joseph Tan. There were 15 lecturers and 20 participating artists from various government offices and private schools within the city.
Tan said the festival sought to develop the talent of the youths in the arts: “It is our day to develop skills in the arts.” Prominent social realist Edgar Fernandez, head of the NCCA’s Visual Arts Committee, declared that art is for all and, addressing the students, said: “This is your story which will go beyond visual art and include theater and music.” He defined performance art as “visual art in time and motion.”
Project director Rommel Espinosa expressed the hope that the festival “would awaken, open the eyes of the youth to art as they have many inhibitions and they can express these in art.”
In the workshop on performance art, teacher Nerissa Guevara gave a performance using a long yellow coin which she intertwined around her body until it just disappeared into her hands. “Just enjoy the space,” she told the youth. “And know when you come in.”
With that as cue, the student broke up into small groups and conducted their own experiments using coils of rope. “Performance art is also theater,” the teacher said.
“We asked what they wanted to create, working with materials available in the community,” said Alma Quinto, installation art teacher.” And they chose the balamban (butterfly), which is the symbol of the city. You can see it everywhere.”
She added, “we conceptualized first, facilitated the process but the content came from them. We pushed connection with a feeling for the environment, told them to deal with what you have and stressed imagination. They want the evolution of the butterfly, it is their symbol, it unites them. At first it was hard, nangangapa pa sila but then (they got it)!.”
At the Bulwagan ng Mamamayan, the students, guided by the mentors, were creating very impressive murals worthy of interaction works among fine arts students although these were only high school and elementary students.
The different murals again had the butterfly as a prominent symbol, along with religious scenes like the crucifixion and a church, urban and rural landscapes, harvest season, fruits, indigenous peoples, figures of humans and animals with a dash of abstract art.
At the end of the five-day festival, the finished products were mounted and installed at the Freedom Park of the city to serve as a permanent exhibit. “Dapat tuloy-tuloy ’yan (it should not stop there),” Tan said. “There should be a follow-through.” —CONTRIBUTED