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Colonial and imperial legacies

For the last five centuries, the Philippines has been a nexus of colonialism and neocolonialism, militarization, migration and globalization, and in obvious and subtle ways, the legacies of these colonial and imperial engagements reverberate through Filipinos’ daily lives.

 

The history of US imperialism especially looms large. For example, Filipinos have variously been classified as US citizens, as having a “special relationship” (and hence priority immigration status) with the US, and as being as “foreign” as other immigrants; they have transformed from imperial possessions to cheap guest labor to unwelcome intruder in response to changing US domestic and imperial policy. Meanwhile, the Philippine state, responding to neocolonial imperatives, has oriented its economic and social development programs towards supplying global demand for cheap, unskilled labor.

"The Wong Street Journal" - the Sizzle Reel! Political Performance Art Comedy!

Kristina Wong

2014 - 2015 Video of solo performance Duration: 2m 26s Courtesy of Kristina Wong

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Kristina Wong

b. 1978
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Kristina Wong is a third generation Chinese American, born in San Francisco and living in Los Angeles. Her work encompasses original solo performances, comedy, personal essays, acting, short films and textile work. She was recently featured in the New York Times’ "Off Color" series that “highlight[ed] artists of color who use humor to make smart social statements about the sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious ways that race plays out in America today.” She has created five solo shows and one ensemble play that have toured throughout the United States and the United Kingdom. Her longest running touring show, Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, looked at the high rates of depression and suicide among Asian American women and toured to over 40 venues since 2006. It’s now a broadcast quality film distributed by Cinema Libre Studios. Kristina’s been a commentator for American Public Media’s Marketplace, PBS, Jezebel, xoJane, Playgirl Magazine, Huffington Post, CNN and a guest on Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” and FXX’s “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.” Her work has been awarded with grants from Creative Capital, The Map Fund, Center for Cultural Innovation, the Durfee Foundation, National Performance Network, five Artist-in-Residence grants from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and a residency from the MacDowell Colony. Kristina has twice given the commencement speech at the University of California, Los Angeles, her alma mater. She graduated with double degrees in English and World Arts and Cultures with a minor in Asian American Studies. She is also trained as an actor at the Steven Book Studios and improvisation at the Upright Citizens Brigade. Television credits include General Hospital, Nickelodeon’s “Nicky Ricky Dicky and Dawn,” and Myx TV’s “I’m Asian American and Want Reparations for Yellow Fever.” This Fall, she is a guest professor at California Institute for the Arts in the M.F.A. Creative Writing Program. Her mail order bride site is www.bigbadchinesemama.com.

I believe that as an artist, my job is not to “fix” the wrongs of the world with easy answers, but instead, to further complicate the question by making the invisible visible, and hopefully, creating some space for public discourse. I would describe my aesthetic at its best as subversive, humorous, and endearingly inappropriate. My non-traditional, multi-disciplinary approach logically mirrors my own multi-layered identity that has been influenced by innumerous cultures, religions, political thinking, technology and post-modern performance art. My nebulous identity continues to shift within the communities I live, evolve and interact with. I see my performance work as a humorous and ephemeral response to the invisible and visible boundaries that shape my world, rather than a hermetic declaration of my identity. I’m interested in guerilla performance as culture jamming– creating performances that subvert the use of space not intended for “performance.” I experiment with interactive, improvisational performance that blurs the roles of “artist” and “audience”— recasting unsuspecting bystanders as co-stars to my performance personas -– unearthing the masks, disguises and performances hidden in the most mundane of daily life. I adore “culture jammers.” Some of my favorites are the street interventions of Michael Moore, the “identity corrections” of the Yes Men, and the feminists who crashed television beauty pageants when I was growing up. Their performances are disguised within daily life to subvert, manipulate, and explode the status quo. I also appreciate the simplicity and elegance of interactive work like Yoko Ono’s. Much of my own guerilla theater work similarly offers social commentary and bypasses theaters and galleries—staged on the internet or alternative spaces. My theater work is informed by my site specific performance sensibilities. In my theater work, I challenge my relationship as a performer to my audience. I also confront the expectations of my genre and my subject matter within the work. My stage performance work differs from the Eurocentric theater traditions of 19th and 20th Century American Realism where actors apply “realistic” emotions to pre-written scripts. I see my “characters” as archetypal extensions of my own persona. I almost always break the fourth wall and let my audiences inform the direction of the show. My creation process is very organic. Some of my shows are living ritual exercises with the audience. I find that pre-scripting my work line-by-line at my computer and then rehearsing emotion into those lines is a very confining process. I prefer to generate lists of ideas and doodles, talk them out with trusted collaborators, improvise with a mix of media during rehearsals and then string up the best moments in a logical (or illogically logical) order for public performance. Some of my scripts actually look like a set list that a stand-up comic would use.

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  • Born: San Francisco, CA, USA
  • Based: Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Clare Counihan

b. 1977
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Clare Counihan earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and her B.A. in English Literature from Duke University. Her research focuses on contemporary southern African experimental literature and the relationship between narrative form and national belonging for unbeloved subjects. She is also deeply interested in food: eating it, cooking it, understanding the ways it reflects and mediates our identities and interactions.

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Sarita Echavez See

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Sarita Echavez See was born in New York City but raised as an "embassy brat" moving from city to city around the world. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, where she first became involved with U.S. women of color politics, especially the arts and culture movement. She obtained her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. While studying in New York City, she met the Filipino American artists and writers who inspired and continue to inspire her teaching and scholarship. In 2013, she joined the faculty of the University of California, Riverside, where she is an associate professor of Media and Cultural Studies. She previously taught at Williams College, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the University of California, Davis. Her research and teaching interests include Asian American and Filipino American cultural critique, postcolonial and empire studies, narrative, and theories of gender and sexuality. She is the author of the book-length study The Decolonized Eye: Filipino American Art and Performance (University of Minnesota Press, 2009), in which she argues that contemporary Filipino American forms of aesthetic and performative abstraction powerfully expose and indict the history of American imperialism as itself a form of abstraction. She is at work on the book-length project “Against Accumulation,” which is a study of the politics of accumulation in the American museum and university and of the politics of anti-accumulation in Filipino American theatre, writing, and visual art. She was one of the core organizers of the 2011 conference "Critical Ethnic Studies and the Future of Genocide" held at the University of California, Riverside, and she has served as a member of the working board of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association. In her work with the Center for Art and Thought and its focus on the contemporary medium of the digital, she envisions CA+T to be a transnational venue for more meaningful, reciprocal encounters between artists and scholars, and she is committed to fostering new forms of literacy, rather than tutelage, and to the transformation, rather than the mere transmission and replication, of knowledge.

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  • Born: New York, NY, USA
  • Based: Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Alexander Orquiza

b. 1980

Alexander Orquiza is a historian of the twentieth century United States and the Philippines. From 2012-2013, he was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Wellesley College, and he joined the Tutorial Board of History and Literature at Harvard University in fall 2014. He received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, his M.Phil. from the University of Edinburgh, and his Ph.D. in history from the Johns Hopkins University.
 
His work focuses on cultural and intellectual exchange between the US and the Philippines. His first book, A Pacific Palate: Food and the Philippine Middle Class during the American Period, 1898-1946, is forthcoming. It examines how American colonial reformers, businessmen, educators, and bureaucrats used food to transform the daily lives of Filipinos. Orquiza contends that food reform was essential to the American imperial mission in the Philippines. It created new consumers for American goods as well as farmers who produced goods for the American consumer market. These food reforms affected generations of Filipino public school students and transformed menus in restaurants and hotels. They were part of visual culture in magazine and newspaper advertisements, and were the focus of Philippine-American economic and political debates.
 
Orquiza argues that food is a powerful lens for examining history. Too often, society only considers the fleeting consumer aspects of food—where is the hip new restaurant, what is the latest food fad, how to make so-called “authentic” versions of dishes. But society often ignores the equally important aspects of food supply: how do ingredients arrive at our tables, who is working in farms and kitchens, are they receiving a fair and decent wage. Orquiza asserts history has shaped our individual roles in this market. Knowing how these roles evolved and how they changed over time is just as important as nutritional labels and Yelp reviews. As a historian, Orquiza believes the answers to these questions about food lie in our knowledge of the past.
 

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Amy Besa

Amy Besa is a native of the Philippines and with her husband and business partner, Romy Dorotan, also from the Philippines, owns and operates Purple Yam in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, New York. Previously, the couple owned the Filipino restaurant Cendrillon in New York, which was open from 1995 to 2009.

In 2006, Amy and Romy co-authored Memories of Philippine Kitchens (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2006), which won the IACP [interntaional Association of Culinary Professionals] Jane Grigson Award for Distinguished Scholarship in the Quality of Research Presentation.

The book describes the melding of native traditions with those of Chinese, Spanish, and American cuisines. They have spent years tracing the foods of the Philippines, and in the book they share the results of that research. From Lumpia, Pancit, and Kinilaw to Adobo and Lehon (the art of the well-roasted pig), the authors document dishes and culinary techniques that are rapidly disappearing and in some cases unknown to Filipinos whether in the Philippines or abroad.

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  • Born: The Philippines
  • Based: New York, NY, USA

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Kimberly Alidio

b. 1971
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Kimberly Alidio wrote After projects the resound (Black Radish, 2016) and The Sky Forever (Writ Large/ The Accomplices, 2019). She received a doctorate from the University of Michigan, held and left a tenure-track position at the University of Texas’ History Department/ Center for Asian American Studies, and won residencies and fellowships from the National Academy of Education/ Spencer Foundation, the University of Illinois’ Asian American Studies Program, Kundiman, VONA/ Voices, Naropa’s Summer Writing Program, and the Center for Art and Thought. Most recently from East Austin, Texas, she lives and writes in Tucson, Arizona.

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  • Born: Baltimore, MD, USA
  • Based: Tucson, AZ, USA

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Authority Figures

Francis Estrada

2012 Gouache, collage, and gold leaf on paper 7" x 9" Courtesy of the artist

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Francis Estrada

b. 1975

Born in the Philipines and currently residing in Brooklyn, Francis Estrada is a visual artist, museum educator at the Museum of Modern Art, and freelance educator of Filipino art and culture. Francis has a fine arts degree in painting and drawing from San Jose State University, and he has taught in a variety of studio, classroom, and museum settings to diverse audiences, including programs for adults with disabilities, cultural institutions, and after-school programs. He was also an administrator and educator at the Museum for African Art, where he enjoyed teaching about the amalgamation of art and culture through objects. Francis exhibits his work nationally, including online publications. His work focuses on culture, history, and perception.

I investigate relationships between characters and their environment. I incorporate pieces of personal, historic and/or ethnographic photographs, text, and motifs (most of which broach the combined themes of history, sentimentality, and nostalgia).  Using some or all of these pieces, I compose scenarios with which I find personal connections then arrange them without providing a complete image or narrative. By de-contextualizing visual images (figures, symbols, motifs) from their original source, I attempt to create an ambiguous space for the viewer to complete. I interrogate how context is created through combinations of these visual elements.  How does the viewer identify with the images presented, and does the composition create a narrative?  How do the combinations of images create notions of space, place, history, identity, or memory?  By creating drawings that assimilate text, photographic reproductions, and symbols, I provide the viewer with a space in which they can decipher the visual clues and “complete” the work.

My art is a tool through which I confront how our understandings of culture are mediated, and the methods through which history and memory are created and perpetuated. I think of my work as "partial portraits" that are activated by the viewer.

I believe that my work speaks to the theme of Storm: A Typhoon Haiyan Recovery Project by connecting to how the media represented the country through images from the aftermath of the storm.  Also, various fundraising events brought out a vast array of artists and performers who used their talent to share Filipino customs (dance, song, martial arts).  Between the media and these events, people were able to see and experience various aspects of Filipino culture.  I feel that my drawings similarly portray various aspects of Philippine culture through the images that I choose to show. 

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  • Born: Manila, Philippines
  • Based: Brooklyn, NY, USA

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Before This Was Texas

Kimberly Alidio

2011 Digital video recording Duration: 1m 3s Courtesy of the artist Visual Arts Center (Austin, TX)

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Kimberly Alidio

b. 1971
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Kimberly Alidio wrote After projects the resound (Black Radish, 2016) and The Sky Forever (Writ Large/ The Accomplices, 2019). She received a doctorate from the University of Michigan, held and left a tenure-track position at the University of Texas’ History Department/ Center for Asian American Studies, and won residencies and fellowships from the National Academy of Education/ Spencer Foundation, the University of Illinois’ Asian American Studies Program, Kundiman, VONA/ Voices, Naropa’s Summer Writing Program, and the Center for Art and Thought. Most recently from East Austin, Texas, she lives and writes in Tucson, Arizona.

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  • Born: Baltimore, MD, USA
  • Based: Tucson, AZ, USA

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Before This Was Texas (screen capture)

Kimberly Alidio

2011 Screen capture of video performance Courtesy of the artist. Visual Arts Center (Austin, TX)

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Kimberly Alidio

b. 1971
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Kimberly Alidio wrote After projects the resound (Black Radish, 2016) and The Sky Forever (Writ Large/ The Accomplices, 2019). She received a doctorate from the University of Michigan, held and left a tenure-track position at the University of Texas’ History Department/ Center for Asian American Studies, and won residencies and fellowships from the National Academy of Education/ Spencer Foundation, the University of Illinois’ Asian American Studies Program, Kundiman, VONA/ Voices, Naropa’s Summer Writing Program, and the Center for Art and Thought. Most recently from East Austin, Texas, she lives and writes in Tucson, Arizona.

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  • Born: Baltimore, MD, USA
  • Based: Tucson, AZ, USA

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Between the Letter and Spirit of the Law: Ethnic Chinese and Philippine Citizenship by Jus Soli, 1899-1947

Filomeno V. Aguilar

2011 Criticism 32 pages. Courtesy of CSAS-Kyoto. For more, please see Southeast Asian Studies and Tonan Ajia Kenkyu.

Southeast Asian Studies 49. 3 (December 2011): 431-463.

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Filomeno V. Aguilar

Filomeno V. Aguilar, Jr. is Professor in the Department of History and Dean of the School of Social Sciences, Ateneo de Manila University. He is the Chief Editor of Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints. He is also the current President of the Philippine Sociological Society (2011–2013). He has served as President of the International Association of Historians of Asia (2005–2006) and as Chair of the Philippine Social Science Council (2006–2008). He is on the editorial advisory boards of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Journal of Agrarian Change, Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, and Southeast Asian Studies.

After obtaining his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1992, he taught in the Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, and then in the Department of History and Politics, James Cook University in north Queensland, Australia. After teaching for ten years overseas, he returned to the Philippines in 2003.

He is the author of Clash of Spirits: The History of Power and Sugar Planter Hegemony on a Visayan Island (University of Hawai'i Press and Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1998) and Maalwang Buhay: Family, Overseas Migration, and Cultures of Relatedness in Barangay Paraiso (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2009). He is the editor of Filipinos in Global Migrations: At Home in the World? (Philippine Migration Research Network and the Philippine Social Science Council, 2002). His most recent book is Migration Revolution: Philippine Nationhood and Class Relations in a Globalized Age (University of Hawai'i Press, 2014). 

His research interests have been broadly interdisciplinary: nationalism and its intersections with race and ethnicity, especially in the early period of Filipino nationalism; the history and dynamics of Philippine global and transnational migrations, citizenship, and the family; Philippine popular political culture; the social histories of sugar and rice in the Philippines; the historical formation of class relations and cultures; contemporary religious movements; and magical worldview and social and historical change.

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  • Born: The Philippines
  • Based: Manila, Philippines

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Black Market

Laura Kina

2013 Oil on canvas. 30 in. x 45 in. Courtesy of the artist.

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Laura Kina

b. 1973
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Laura Kina is an artist and scholar based in Chicago, Illinois. She is a Vincent de Paul Associate Professor of Art, Media, & Design at DePaul University and identifies as “hapa, yonsei, Uchinanchu.” Born in Riverside, California in 1973 to an Okinawan father from Hawaiʻi and a Spanish-Basque/Anglo mother, Kina was raised in Poulsbo, Washington, a small Norwegian town in the Pacific Northwest. She received her M.F.A. in Studio Art from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2001, where she studied with noted painters Kerry James Marshall and Phyllis Bramson. She earned her B.F.A. in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1994 and was inspired by her teachers Michiko Itatani and the late Ray Yoshida.

Kina’s artwork deals with themes of distance and belonging, and her research is focused on Asian American and mixed race identity and history. Her artwork has exhibited across the United States and in India and Japan, including at the Chicago Cultural Center, India Habitat Centre, Nehuru Art Centre, Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum, the Rose Art Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Spertus Museum, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. Her solo exhibitions include Blue Hawaiʻi (University of Memphis Fogelman Galleries of Contemporary Art, Memphis, TN, 2014); Sugar (Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL 2010); A Many-Splendored Thing (Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL, 2010); Aloha Dreams (2007) and Hapa Soap Operas (2003) at Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts, Miami, FL; and Loving (Grand Projects, New Haven, CT, 2006). Her artwork has been published on the cover of Franklin Odo’s Voices from the Canefields: Folks Songs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawaiʻi (Oxford University Press, 2013); Cathy Schlund-Vial’s Modeling Citizenship: Jewish and Asian American Writing (Temple University Press, 2011); and in publications including Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out, edited by Adebe DeRango-Adem and Adrea Thompson (Inanna Publications, 2010); Jillian Nakornthap and Lynn Stromick’s Embracing Ambiguity: Faces of the Future (Cal State Fullerton Main Art Gallery, 2010); and Staci Boris’s The New Authentics: Artists of the Post-Jewish Generation (Spertus Museum, 2008).

Laura Kina is also the coauthor, along with Wei Ming Dariotis, of War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013). The National Endowment for the Arts funded her curation of “War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art” at the DePaul Art Museum and the Wing Luke Museum. She is a 2013 recipient of the Ragdale/3Arts Foundation Residency and Fellowship. Kina is a founding member of the Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS) biennial conference and a founding member and managing editor of The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies. Diversity MBA Magazine selected Kina as one of the 2012 “Top 100 Executives & Emerging Leaders Under 50.”

 

Photograph by David Scheele. 

My artwork is about themes of distance and belonging, and I focus on the fluidity of cultural difference and the slipperiness of identity. Asian American history and mixed race representations are subjects that run through my work. I start with autobiographical impulses and draw inspiration from popular culture, textile design, as well as personal and community photographic archives and oral history interviews. I collect these images, stories, and histories, and I see what is missing, what is not being told, what is not obvious, and I go hunting for it. I am interested in the overlap, fusion, disjuncture, or vibration that happens when I bring back the missing pieces and put them together.

“Okinawa -- All American Food” and “Black Market” capture the remnants of war and a continued American military presence in contemporary Okinawa. Both paintings are from my Blue Hawaiʻi exhibition, which compresses time and space between Okinawa and Hawaiʻi. The exhibition is on view through March 27, 2014 at the University of Memphis Fogelman Galleries of Contemporary Art in Memphis, TN. To view the complete series and download the exhibition catalog visit http://www.laurakina.com/newwork2013.html

Set in present day Okinawa, Japan, the works are based on snap shots of in between spaces that I took on the way to meet my extended family and visit official tourist destinations. “Black Market” features a roadside black market where American processed food products from discounted US military exchange stores (e.g, BX, PX, NEX, MCX) are resold to locals. For many Okinawans, including my family, who grew up under US occupation (1945-1972), this junk food elicits a sense of nostalgia for their childhood. Products such as Spam, Vienna Beef, Dole canned fruit, and Folger’s Coffee, which may seem low brow at best in a US food world context, are viewed as markers of upward mobility. “Okinawa -- All American Food” captures an A&W billboard in front of a colonized urban Okinawan landscape in which power lines scrape across the sky and the view is crowded with cement apartment buildings and only one traditional red ceramic tiled roof can be seen in the distance. The A&W mid-century carhop waitress offers up a platter of American food: hamburger, hot dog, fries and two root beer floats. The billboard references the ongoing impact of the post-World War II years. In the foreground a painted strip of brightly colored bingata fabric points to the independent Ryukyu Kingdom and courtly dancers, which are presently reduced to a tourist framework and relegated to the ancient past.

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  • Born: Riverside, CA, USA
  • Based: Chicago, IL, USA

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Cover

Mik Gaspay

2012 Print. 50 in. x 36 in. Courtesy of the artist.

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Mik Gaspay

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Mik Gaspay is an interdisciplinary artist who primarily works with found objects, painting and sculpture. His practice investigates translated meanings of commonplace products and structures: drawing from the tension between functionality, purpose and language he conjures up expressions fused from readymade signification, history and uncertainty. His work queries for meanings embedded in the materials within objects we consume and encompass our lives with.

Mik Gaspay was born in Quezon City, Philippines and migrated to Palo Alto, California at the age of 9. He received a B.F.A. in Illustration/Design from the California College of Arts and Crafts and later attended the California College of the Arts for his M.F.A. He currently lives and works in San Francisco, California.

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  • Born: Quezon City, Philippines
  • Based: San Francisco, CA, USA

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