Shell NSAC’s Virtual Art Interact: How young creative minds can ‘restART’ the nation’s future
The resourcefulness and creativity of young artists can be a powerful voice in moving the country forward, as the empowering messages in their pieces can reignite expression, the hope of the people, and the restrengthening of the economy. This was the timely and powerful idea that reverberated during the recent Virtual Art Interaction, now on its second year and held by the long-running Shell National Students Art Competition (NSAC). The event’s ‘restART’ theme also signified that the nation’s future can be rebuilt and revitalized through art.
Launched by Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation 54 years ago, the NSAC annually convenes aspiring young artists, masters, and art enthusiasts to champion Filipino artistry and creativity. The event also provides student and rising artists an avenue where they can both showcase their works, as well as learn from masters how to succeed in this unique, if challenging industry.
“Art has the power to change hearts and minds and communicates messages through a powerful display of sound, visuals, and all of these combined. Filipinos can use the power of their art to keep the Philippines moving forward,” said Conrad Parizal, the Social Performance Adviser for Downstream of Pilipinas Shell.
The power of conceptual art
Shell NSAC’s restART vision calls for young artists to come together to visualize a brighter tomorrow for all Filipinos, using their work and skills. Art has the power to influence society, form opinions, and instill values because it can translate messages and experiences across language, time, and culture, as it acts as a vehicle for social change. The pieces of art created during the event emphasize the importance of hope which can rise when artists and the public work together.
Multimedia artist Emard Cañedo, explained further the role that art plays during these challenging times: “Art is a form of therapy. It helps us cope with the pandemic. In the long run, after the pandemic, those who practiced art can utilize it as a tool to express themselves.”
The event highlight was a deep dive into Conceptual Art, where the artist makes use of the materials he has available to get their ideas across. This includes exploring alternative resources like charcoal, crayons, lipstick or other beauty items, used newspapers and magazines, and cardboard boxes.
Then Cañedo, a visual artist and art educator whose works probe the current socio-political conditions through visual idioms, held a one-hour workshop on ‘Still Life: Finding Life in Art in the Time of Crisis.’ Joining him in the panel discussion was 2007 NSAC Winner Gino Bueza whose art specializes in the elements of collage, where fragmented images are merged into layered juxtapositions of color, pattern, and form.
Bueza reinforced his belief in conceptual art, saying, “Joining NSAC makes me happy and helps me to be resourceful with the limited materials. Limited material is not a blockade to express the message you want to say – but it can build confidence.”
How to succeed in art
Virtual Art Interact emphasized how young artists can further develop and challenge their art process. Given limitations in resources during times of crisis, the workshop students learned how to use different and ‘ordinary’ materials to enhance their art practice.
Leaders from the art world also gave their insights on and guidance to the students on how to be a successful artist.
“Support is really important in this field, like what Shell is doing: providing a future platform where artists can showcase their piece,” said comic book writer and illustrator Berlin Manalaysay.
Carla Francisco, the almost-architect turned art intern, pointed out another factor to success: “[Be] willing to learn. Ask from those who know more. The successful artists took the time to learn, and asked the right questions.”
Filipino-Asian modern and contemporary artist Richard Buxani agreed, then adding that “people from diverse backgrounds can easily adopt. Let’s say you have a degree in accountancy, how do you combine numbers with your work in Fine Arts? Or if you have a degree in chemistry, how do you weave that with sculpture? It starts with passion.”
In his closing message, Cañedo encourages his younger colleagues: “Don’t be shy to explore ideas. What we need is to continue with progress.”