Creating Art in the New Normal
Artists in three cities share how the pandemic changed their way of working
The FIG Commune team got an exclusive interview from three established artists based in different cities. They share about their experience during this pandemic and what drives them to create art amidst the challenges of the new normal.
Left to Right: Aze Ong, Ged Merino and Monica Delgado
Aze Ong, a Manila-based artist, who uses crochet as a medium for her art and is also a performance artist. As a child, she grew up surrounded by textiles and threads since her mom had a garments business. She learned crochet when she studied at Assumption Antipolo. Mentored by artist Lirio Salvador, Aze says her mentor brought spark to her wick. She started as an artist in 2010 and has exhibited her works in Art Fair Philippines, Modeka gallery and Aphro. She has also brought her art to places such as New York and Kenya.
Ged Merino, whose home base in New York City stays most of the time in his studio there. Art brought him to New York when he got the Jackson Pollock Memorial Scholarship in 1987. He decided to stay since he got representation from art galleries such as the Mirriam Perlman gallery in Chicago and The Multiple Impression gallery in SOHO. Usually, Ged travels to and from Manila, Bogota and New York every year. Known for using discarded textile materials mainly for his art, he continues to work on different materials since he currently uses photography print with stitching and embroidery for his works. Due to the pandemic, he ended up working in Bogota, which he considers as his second home. His wife is Colombian and they also have a home there. Prior to the pandemic, Ged visited Manila since his work was featured in Drawing Room Gallery’s booth at the ALT exhibit in Manila last February.
Monica Delgado, a New York based artist, creates acrylic paintings with a sculptural approach. She graduated cum laude and finished a Fine Arts degree from University of the Philippines. For her Chromaticity exhibit at Artinformal gallery in Manila launched last August, Monica made use of strips of acrylic paint which were carefully mounted in layers on a frame that looked like fabric from afar. She focused on the existential art situation on the “colorness” of white since as light, white is the presence of all colors but as paint it is the absence of all pigments. Some of her works were also exhibited at Modeka gallery’s Imogen exhibit in March.
A New Way of Working
Aze admits that the pandemic made her look at things from a new perspective since she wanted to continue doing her public art project Queen. “In a time of pandemic when almost everything shifted virtually, I questioned the Public space. If there is a space that was meant for the public and the public could not go out, where then is the public space?,” quips Aze.
(1) Queen in Kenya; (2) My Soul's Light; (3) Queen Azenith Rooftop Performance in Manila
Thinking out-of-the-box, Aze used virtual connectivity to show her art. “I performed with my Queen artworks almost everywhere inside our house and recorded them and put it out on social media and tie ups with different groups and organizations. When I have exhausted all the space we had at home, my husband thought of using our roof for the performance. I performed my brand new Queen Azenith wearable sculpture on the roof and submitted them to open calls”, says Aze.
Queen Azenith refers to both wearable sculpture and performance. On early mornings, they begin their
ascent on a steep ladder and make the necessary preparations before the artist wears the heavy object and
begins a meditative process.
Since facemasks are a must now and bayanihan spirit is alive, Aze also did online selling of facemasks and helped the community of her Cordilleran weaving teacher in Baguio.