There is beauty in bones for the 2018 Miclat Art Award Winner
The painter Marc Chagall famously said, “Art starts where nature ends."
Surely, he meant the sublime depth of our imagination and creativity. This is exactly what this year’s Maningning Miclat Art Award Grand Prize winner Jessica Lopez’s exudes: nature in its end, flowing into the aesthetic.
A nonrepresentational art piece of fish bones fixed on a 36 x 48 inch-plywood with a black background, it bested 18 shortlisted finalists from 64 qualified entries accepted online.
The works were exhibited in Far Eastern University (FEU) in Manila last September. Jessica, who calls herself Lady Fishbone, was awarded at the end of the exhibit on September 26.
The 26-year old artist from Pangasinan (a province best known for its fish markets production) brought home a Julie Lluch Sculpture trophy, a check for P28,000, collection of Miclat’s books, and a solo exhibit at District Gallery in Quezon City.
“I started to experiment with fish bones way back in October 2014 when I was one of the art facilitators of the First Youth Art Camp in Lagawe, Ifugao,” she told Rappler.
“I was having lunch with a teacher one time, and she shared that within a fish is a fish-shaped bone.”
She looked closer, and upon seeing what the teacher meant, the idea dawned upon her. That started her penchant for using fish bones in her work.
Home after the workshop, Jessica would store all the bones left from their meals. Her father also helped her procure these from vendors in their local market who produce boneless bangus (milkfish).
The process is long and natural from here. Jessica would wash the blood off the bones before piling these in a sack or basket. Sometimes the bones would clump altogether in a bulk from the market, and Jessica would plunge a basketful of these in a neighbor’s fishpond.
After a week, she would pull the basket to find the bones untwined and flesh off. “Maybe the fishes in the pond ate it,” Jessica said.
Jessica would boil the bones in water and salt to rid it of its foul smell before drying it. Then the bones become her material on canvas or plywood. “Bone does not rot nor does it get infested by ants,” Jessica said.
“I would simply add resin para matibay (to make it durable).”
“Fish is a blessing, and fish bones symbolize emptiness,” Jessica said. “I guess these represent our life. Whether we experience abundance or emptiness, it's all a blessing because there is a time for everything.”
Such wisdom can only come from experience. Jessica was a finalist in the 2013 ASEAN Philippine Painting Contest and was a two-time semi-finalist in the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence (MADE) Competition before achieving this feat.
Held in even-numbered years since 2004, the Maningning Miclat Art Award is named in honor of the late trilingual poet and artist Maningning Miclat, who used to teach at FEU. She departed at the tender age of 28 in 2000.
“Maningning Miclat is a great inspiration in art and poetry. She lives forever through the works and pieces she created. She is a treasure,” Jessica said.
What must we expect from her solo exhibit soon? “I want to work on the bones of different fishes (aside from the milkfish),” she answered. “I want something different from what I already did, maybe do a sculpture, too.” -Rappler.com