In their element

In Photo: Design Foundation Department Chairman Timothy Dacanay, Industrial Design faculty member Tess Quadra, first-place winner Maria Tara Javier, School of Design and the Arts Dean Arch. Dottie Asela Domingo and Associate Dean for Culture and Arts Dr. Sunita Mukhi

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WHEN I was in elementary, I fancied myself as an artist of sorts. I was engrossed in drawing, quietly emulating a Chinese classmate who drew beautiful faces of women. I even made a full bond paper pencil drawing of my favorite cartoon superhero then, UFO Grendaizer! Heeyah!

Third-place winner Sofia Alexandra Fernandez, second-place winner Janelle Louis Cruz and Javier

What I would do was look at a photo, then try to copy it by hand and, using a pencil, draw it on a separate bond paper. I didn’t get some proportions right…. I knew at that early age, there were things that were off with my drawing, like a crooked elbow, an off-angle shoulder or the nose not quite sitting neatly on the face.

But as I got older, I realized drawing wasn’t really my thing, as I became mildly obsessed, even to this day, with outer space. (Yes, kids, back in her youth, Tita Stella actually wanted to be an astronaut! ’Til she found out she had to ace her science and math subjects. I could wing science but…math? Boo.)

It was my dear late bother Monching, it seems, who had the talent for drawing. He even took up a few architecture subjects at National University way back when. (The university was then owned by the Jhocson family, and, yes, sat at that same side pocket of Sampaloc, Manila, as it still does today. Only now, with a stronger and formidable athletic program courtesy of SM. Good grief.)

First-place winner Maria Tara Isabel Javier’s
Silakbo ng Damdamin in “aluminum wire”

His granddaughter, B., who is also my grandniece and ahijada, seems to have inherited his drawing talent. But like her Ninang, ahem, she also patterns her drawings after Japanese photos and creations.

B. has taken it one step further and actually won a local manga comics drawing contest. So proud of the little one!

Now she is no longer little, and at 16 has found other hobbies to engage in outside of drawing. She can sit all day watching YouTube videos of the Korean pop boyband BTS performing all day. (Groan.) Ah, well, maybe when she is older, she might find her way back to drawing or doing some amazing art.

I’m glad, though, that SM Development Corp. (SMDC), one of the largest conglomerates in the country, has trained its sights on encouraging the youth to enhance their talents, skills and craftsmanship. They recently invited art students from some of the top colleges and universities around the Metro for its very first Art Sculpture Contest.

With its theme, “Elements,” the competition focused on the substance and representations of fire, water, earth and wind.

From the pool of promising artworks, individual 15-inch gold aluminum wire figurines by De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde’s Multimedia Arts majors Maria Tara Javier, Janelle Louis Cruz and Sofia Alexandra Fernandez swept the top 3 awards in the competition. The grand champion is Javier’s Silakbo ng Damdamin, which exhibits the fire element and reflects her passion for the arts, expressing the highs and lows of emotions. Runner-up is Cruz’s Awake, featuring a tongue of flame separating into three sheets of different heights. Third-placer Fernandez’s Mizu, the depiction of water as the source of life and fertility.

Metalsmith and mentor Tess Quadra, who teaches sculpture in the college’s Foundation Studies Department, shared that the award-winning pieces were the apprentices’ first attempt on metalwork.

The 15-inch prototypes will serve as concepts to be transformed into full-blown 6-foot art pieces, which will soon take center stage, bringing art in the midst of SMDC’s living spaces.

Other institutions which participated were the Technological University of the Philippines, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas.

Congratulations, students! And we look forward to seeing these incredible works of art in those spaces real soon. Animo!