Orlando: Here I Come!

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.

Sticking it to the Tiger Mom

I'm so psyched to see this growing movement in China as reported by Photo Booth in the New Yorker yesterday. The full article is here in the Feb. 3, 2014 issue, by Ian Johnson.

I'm tired of parents who just robotically push and stress out their children to be over achievers -- for what? To attend the 'right' schools, the 'right' universities? And then to end up in a career they are completely unhappy with not even addressing the damage it does to ones sense of self. As an artist, parent of two school age girls, I am realizing more and more everyday the importance of hands on creativity that has nothing to do with electronics (although I am a huge supporter of using electronics as well). Finding a balance in anything is key. Understanding what your school offers and lacks, then enhancing it at home is my approach. Although my kids' school is not so academically rigorous, it still is a traditional western, international school that, in the end, expects the kids to choose the college track and hence pedagocially is considered still 'academic'. I support this route for my kids, but writing as an Asian American, and commenting directly about the New Yorker article, it is refreshing to know about the Waldorf education and Steiner's philosophy as a growing movement in China. It's a cultural shift away from the Asian Tiger Mom approach, and that is a good trend in any country.

 


Image from the New Yorker reporting on the growing movement of Waldorf education in China.

The Fort by Sofia, Bella and Lilly.

The fantastic fort installation: Bella inspecting the backside.Fia posing in the window adding the last touches.

This is the installation titled "The Fort" by Bella, Sofia and their bestie Lilly. Using yarn, sheets, blankets, boxes and other miscellaneaous items. I'm very proud of their work. Now on view 24/7 at Bergstrasse 16, Berlin. 

Dedications

Thread, acrylic, photographs, graphite on paper and mylar.

This past week my parent's dog of 9 1/2 years died of a heart attack in Madison, WI, one day after my sister Kristina's arrival from London. His name was Picasso named after the infamous artist, and in honor of my own career as an artist. Their cat, who is still alive and kicking, is named Schubert, named after the composer and a nod to Anna, my older sister's career as a musician and composer. Since they don't have other animals, Tina bemused if they did, what would they name it in reference to her career in IT? Zuckerberg? Gates, Jobs? (That would be kind of cute, actually). 

Picasso (Pico) was a loving and loyal golden labrador/retriever and although I only saw him twice a year, I will miss him. It's strange that Tina's journey, that was specifically planned to celebrate her birthday this week, coincided with Pico's untimely death.

I posted this picture in lieu of posting a picture of Pico because it evokes the sentiments I want to convey here. Besides, the photos I've collected of Pico and myself and my girls are so many...it would be brutal to try and choose which one would best befit his personality.

The script in these drawings is the Baybayin, the pre-colonial alphabet of the Philippines. They all spell out 'mahal', and 'halik' which translates to love and kiss in Tagalog (the national language of the Philippines).

This might be a rather bizarre dedication, (but in the spirit of odd dedications -- Picasso the dog, named for me as an artist and Schubert, the cat named for Anna as a musician) I'm wishing Tina a happy birthday on this cold January day, and to Pico, a final rest in peace -- and to both, lots of love and kisses.

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