SHELL’S 3RD VIRTUAL ART INTERACT SHOWCASES VISAYAS CREATIVE COMMUNITY (Vibrant histories and captivating cultures captured)

Top Line (L-R): Visual Artist and NSAC Alumnus Bayani Galera; Moderator Prof. Riza Romero

Middle Line (L-R): Co-Founder of Glucose Zine and Syrup Artfest Graphic Designer Ginoe; Festival Director of Fringe Manila and Creative Director of Pineapple Lab Andrei Pamintuan

Bottom Line: Country Social Performance and Investment Manager of Pilipinas Shell Sankie Simbulan

 "There is no other sector that can better inspire and articulate this optimism than artists, and Pilipinas Shell will continue to nurture them so that they may spark the ideas the people need for a brighter future. " Simbulan affirmed the role of art in these trying times.

This year has been an exceptionally challenging period for communities around the world. As the nation continues to grapple with an ongoing pandemic, raging typhoons, and other calamities, industries have been pushed to adapt or close their doors—and the art world is no exemption. This time, through the Shell Virtual Art Interact which was held on November 7, Visayan artists emerged into the spotlight to tell their own unique stories of hope, courage, and redemption.

This leg of the Virtual Art Interact focusing on the Visayan region is the third of a series of virtual workshops launched by Shell in line with its 53rd National Students Art Competition (NSAC). Breaking away from the conventional art symposia which had been put on hold by the lockdowns, Virtual Art Interact explores the various communities of artists from diverse Philippine regions, empowering them to narrate their struggles and victories through visual storytelling. Luzon had the spotlight on October 3, while Mindanao followed on October 17. 

Hosted by Fringe Manila’s Creative Director Andrei Paminutan, it also featured a live sketching demonstration by artists and students. Sankie Simbulan, Country Social Performance and Investment Manager of Pilipinas Shell, explained the reason for this journey. She said, “It is important for us to expand outside the local art periphery. Virtual Art Interact was a chance for us to show people that there is so much more to the Philippine creative scene by featuring various artists across the country.”

As the longest-running student art competition in the Philippines, the NSAC has been cultivating the next generation of Filipino artists, curators, and collectors. By engaging these creatives, it supports and empowers the community to uplift more people through their creative gifts. 

Visayan art has birthed prolific artists such as Cebuano painter Martino Abellana, Boholano mixed media artist Henri Cainglet, and Negrense abstract expressionist artist Alfonso Ossorio, among others. However, despite the exhibits that have made their way in Luzon, there is still much to be discovered as many of these artists still have to reach the radar of a wider audience. 

     Ginoe's work for this pandemic

“Growing up, we didn’t have much access to art references or local libraries that carry art books. I had to learn and take inspiration from my communities and our history,” stated Negros Occidental-based Ginoe, who was one of the featured artists at the recent Virtual Art Interact. Ginoe, who hails from Silay, is a visual artist, programming director, and community manager at the House of Frida, a contemporary art gallery in Bacolod that aims to promote budding artists from the city. 

Though pristine beaches and delectable cuisine may be the first things to come to mind when mentioning Negros, Silay is actually considered the seat of arts, culture, and ecotourism in the island region. Ginoe elaborated, “Silay is a very historic town with so many ancestral houses, featuring pieces from across the world—be it China, Europe, or Japan. It’s an inspiring place for artists because it gives you a taste of early globalization, but there’s enough nature to keep you feeling calm and relaxed.” 

The significance of platforms such as NSAC and Virtual Art Interact has never been more prominent. At a time when the pandemic keeps people at home and limits movement, art is the underlying thread that holds communities together. Bayani Galera, a renowned installation artist and an NSAC alumnus with roots in Bohol, shared, “There are a lot of struggles and stories born out of this pandemic, and creatives have been expressing these feelings through art. [Maraming paghihirap na nagaganap at mga bagong storya ngayong pandemic, at kinekwento ito ng mga artists]”

Despite the consequences brought about by COVID-19, there is another silver lining to this period. Galera pointed out, “With everything now online, the pandemic also broke down the four walls of galleries and widened our audience. More people can appreciate art—whether it’s music, paintings, or theater. [Ngayon na online na lahat, binuksan ng pandemic yung four walls ng galleries at lumaki ang audience. Mas marami nang nakaka-appreciate ng art—music, paintings, or theater man yan.]”