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Isabel Manalo: Stitching the Seam

Isabel Manalo: Stitching the Seam

March 6 – April 27, 2014

“Perhaps it’s a change in geography, a reflection on time passing as aging overcomes me, or maybe it’s simply a deeper understanding and desire to comprehend the profundity of motherhood, parenthood, and spouse hood. I’m interested in the sensation of awkwardness and transition and how this has been the underlying theme of my work for many years.”

Isabel Manalo’s work has become more about the hand and less about the image. The work seen in Stitching the Seam is less about the abstraction of space but rather the abstraction of language and image as manifest in collage on paper. Manalo uses the pre-colonial alphabet from the Philippines (called the Baybayin) as a way to communicate her deepest thoughts in a script that is not used anymore. For her it is visual. She stitches the calligraphic lines as if she were stitching a wound. The process of sewing reminds her of her mother and the endless hours she spent sewing dresses for herself and her sisters. It was a large part of her mother’s identity and by including the sewing, it makes her mother present in this body of work almost akin to painting a narrative portrait of her. Paint becomes blisters; photographs are cut and glued like pretty Band-Aids we see at the local drug stores. It resolves into a tactile discomfort of thread, knots, paint boils and cut paper that evokes a life that is uncontrolled, but hoping to be beautiful, somehow. Stitching the Seam refers to the multitude of feelings that connect Manalo to the minutiae of everyday life, to the tragic and spectacular of the bigger planet we endeavor to call home.

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