This is exciting and terrifying, in the best and happiest sense. If you are around Manila, I hope you will consider checking out of a few of the things I am up to this month:
You, in Particular
On Sundays of February, a limited run of new artist postcards will be released at Local Edition, a coffee shop on Perea Street, Makati. My work, You, in Particular, is part of their 3//8 Print Series, featuring three local artists. Each artist uses a series of 8 postcards to create a larger work of art. Mine is a mix of drawing and poetry. We launched the series last week, and here’s a peak at my first two pieces. Postcards are on sale while they last, for P160 each.
what wakes you
The main project I’m currently working on is an art installation that opens on February 20th! The work is called what wakes you, and is made up of poetry and paintings. I begin installing the work tomorrow, and will slowly develop the work from day to day, until it’s final launch on the following Saturday at 4pm. This will also be at Local Edition.
Drop by while it’s in progress or at the opening reception! And if you miss the opening, the work will be up through March 2016.
This month also marks the beginning of my journey teaching art and writing.
DRAWING: If you’re interested in visual art, I’m teaching a drawing workshop that doesn’t require any drawing experience! It’ll be both dynamic and therapeutic as we play with charcoal and pastels. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up! Fee is P1,800 including materials and snacks. February 17, Wednesday, 6-9pm. at Prism Gallery, Island Tower, Salcedo Street, Makati.
WRITING: If you’re interested in writing, I’m teaching a creative writing workshop for writers and non-writers who are feeling a little stuck. We’ll play with rhythm and repetition in your writing. Using the pattern of poetic forms like the villanelle and the pantoum as building blocks, we’ll discover new ways to keep writing fun and fresh. No writing experience necessary! Workshop fee: P850 with materials and a free regular drink of your choice at the cafe.
February 20, Saturday, 10am-12nn. at Local Edition Coffee & Tea on Perea Street.
Here are some links if you’d like to keep up with my artist adventures:
We packed it up on Sunday night. My first show. I cut the twine and nylon that hung my poems and paintings on the walls. I heard a satisfying snap with each break. I felt it, too.
My poetry and paintings hung the course of two weekends on the walls of Scarsdale, a lovely laid back space tucked away in the S&R compound on the busy Shaw Boulevard, boasting artisan doughnuts and croughnuts.
The exhibit was called “If the Ground Moves: Villanelles in Mixed Media.” This was my first independent body of work created as a full show. The work was not only all my own, but also extremely personal. It was not just a chip off of my creative bark, but a walk through a grove of trees whispering my story. In the days leading to the event, I felt my spirit shrink back in unease, but increase too with anticipation.
The work is made up of 13 poems and 3 painting compositions (made up of 12 individual pieces). All but one of the poems were written in California coffee shops and train rides. The odd one out, and the collection’s keystone, was written in my favorite local Legazpi coffee shop. The paintings were made on wood and canvas, a mix of acrylic, ink, graphite and charcoal.
I could not be any happier about my very first solo show.
If you’d like to know more about the details of the work, please check out my website: www.nathaniaaritao.com.
I have also made a facebook page and instagram account dedicated to my art. Please follow and keep me accountable. I hope to make more art and share more art this year.
For many days over the past few weeks, I would fall asleep or wake up with the Buhay Makulay song playing in my head. I would think of our children and the joy in their faces as they sang. I would look ahead toward the big surprise we had for them – our special culminating activity! But the day before yesterday, I woke up with children and the song in my mind, this time harmonized with sadness. The Buhay Makulay’s first Likha season had come to an end.
On Saturday, December 7th, Buhay Makulay had it’s first Likha Showcase! The showcase was a celebration of children and the arts! The showcase consisted of an art exhibit and a short program, all featuring the work of the 31 children we had been blessed to work with throughout this season. It was a private event, really more for the children than for anyone else. Each child invited one guest from their family, while we invited a few of Buhay Makulay’s and Precious Jewels Ministry’s closest friends and supporters. We gathered to honor the children and praise God!
This was the most ambitious program I’ve launched for Buhay Makulay so far. In my mind and heart it has been years in the making. The vision for the showcase I have held so long, I cannot believe it has already come true, almost exactly how I had pictured it! This was the first art exhibit I’ve ever really curated and installed, and I certainly hope it is only the first of many. It was small in scale, but gigantic in story.
The activity was not just an event, but part of a larger narrative. Though us volunteers and partner staff could see the growth in the children during our time together, we were not sure that the children could yet grasp the weight of their discoveries and accomplishments. The activity was meant to help see how far they had come!
This was a special day for them. These children live in cramped quarters, some under a bridge and some in relocated communities, all from the poor corners of the city. They do not have room in their homes to dance, or large spaces on their walls on which their artwork can be displayed and appreciated.
This was a special day for them. All the fun and learning they had with us could finally be shared with the people that raise and care for them on a daily basis. Most brought their mothers, others their fathers, and a few their older sisters or brothers. We were sharing with family. We were making known to them their own incredible value that so often gets lost behind poverty line.
This was a special day for them. The kids walked around the exhibit, pointing out to their mothers which drawings or crafts they had made. Mothers watched on bright-eyed, as their kids danced onstage. Little kids came up to our volunteers, with a wealth of smiles that many weeks ago were so hard to wedge out of them. And I watched, in disbelief and wonder, at the sweet celebration taking place around me. As we knew from the beginning, all our hard work is worth it.
I’m not huge on television series’, but thanks to online streaming I have become dedicated to a few. I can get through a whole season of a show with much excitement, watching episode right after episode. But I have a tendency to hold off watching the season enders. Nearing a season’s conclusion, I slow down. Sometimes I put it off for longer, until the following season already starts so I won’t have to wait in agony between stories. (At this moment, I have yet to watch three season enders of three different shows whose seasons ended months ago!)
I’d rather wait in willing suspense, than just have things be plain over.
Perhaps this is the feeling that I woke up with the other day – wishing we were still looking ahead to the big surprise for the kids, rather than knowing that the celebrations had been celebrated.
In the weeks to follow, I hope to continue to process the experience and share incredible stories of learning and blessing. Thankfully, there is much to share!
Words cannot explain how entranced I have been the past few days with Iron and Wine’s music video for Boy With a Coin.
The first time I looked up the song on YouTube, I didn’t even bother watching the video and just listened to the song as I worked on a separate tab on my browser. A few plays later, after falling in love with the music, I finally decided to watch the video, made curious by the sound of people ascending stairs at the beginning of the song.
As a dancer, I gravitate towards music videos heavy with dance. This video captivated me so. It even got me dancing around my dining room late into the night.
Boy With a Coin. By Iron and Wine.
Elegance and intensity. But elegance made richer by authenticity. And intensity made powerful by subtlety. I may have watched this video ten million times in the past two days.
While I’m at it, off the top of my head, here are a few of my all time favorite dance-inspired videos/short films. In order of appearance in my life.
I hope one day to direct one of my own.
Slow Dancing in a Burning Room. John Mayer. Choreographed by Wade Robson.
So raw. So beautiful. Thank you Wade Robson for choreographing this. I love the simplicity and honesty of the filming and dancing.
Ariel. By Stateless.
This video will always remind me of the summer I spent in DC, when I first found the video. I played it loudly in my room when my roommate were gone. Over and over again. It may be the least dance-intense videos on my list, but sometimes when I dance, the imagery and electricity captured in this video is what inspires me when I move. I want people to see that when I dance, but without the need for special effects.
Thought of You. By the Weepies. Animation by Ryan Woodward.
Right here, ladies and gentlemen, is the marriage of two things I love – dance and animation. The animation has so effortlessly and precisely communicated emotion through movement. Even more than that, it’s just such great storytelling.
Valtari. By Sigur Ros. From the Valtari Mystery Film Experiment.
Not only was this my favorite song from their recent album, but when I first saw this film I was left speechless. Time to watch it, people!
I think you may have guessed from the silence emanating from my blog, that either (1) life has been very busy and exciting for me or (2) life has been desperately boring, locking me up in a state too horribly embarrassing to even write about, that my shame has caused me to hide out in internet anonymity until further notice, or at least until something remotely entertaining in my life arrives to push me out of the depths of dilly dallying doom that suffocates me like a tie tied too tight.
Well…you will be glad to know that it is the former. This year could not have gotten off to a better start. And all of it in unplanned ways. Ah, it’s always in unplanned ways! I can’t even begin to share about how my life’s plot continues to thicken (in promising, not questionable ways), but I will write a bit about a few things I have learned about myself in these first weeks of the year:
Yes, it seems I have been making the crossover. Well, maybe less of a crossover into someone different and more of an expanding of self. It’s been some months in the discovery, and more than a handful of people have given me similar feedback,… but I am finally coming to terms with this: that I may have more than just two and a half threads of business-minded muscle in this dancer’s body, woven in bright stitches in all my artsy-fartsyness! It was a speaking engagement with a partner foundation just two weeks ago that really opened my eyes to how I was breaking out into a new discipline. (More on that in future writing!)
We shall see where this goes! But for now, I am beyond excited to be able to make this discovery as the company I represent helps build livelihood programs for Filipinos with very limited professional prospects at the moment. It is an amazing feeling to be able to help provide jobs for people that so desperately need it, when I myself have just recently began my life in the “professional” world.
2. I’m a dancer, and there’s just no way to shake it out of my body. Or out of my soul for that matter.
In the latter half of 2012, after moving back to the Philippines I hadn’t been training or taking many dance classes. After having a very dance-intensive life in college, this was a bit of a letdown – for body, mind and heart. I appeased myself by teaching Zumba classes, running (not a favorite past time, but it will do, if only to push my body toward some sort of limit), and dancing alone in my little home studio. Right before the close of 2012, thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I discovered a place to dance, take classes, and push my body toward a whole new limit. It came at just the right time! This year my opportunities in that place have grown even more.
Not only that, but in just the second day of this year, I was reunited with two good friends who took me to a freestyle dance workshop on a whim. No doubt, I felt a little out of my element, but it was the needed push to open my year up to dancing again.I was challenged, inspired and more importantly, reconnected with a community of dancers.
Just a few weeks ago, I got another random call from one of those friends on a Thursday– telling me, not asking me, about our plans for performing over that weekend. Together we did the doxology for a college dance concert, barely practicing before the show! They needed someone who was comfortable with improvising, and there we were, freestyling a somewhat structured prayer, through dance.
Then again, randomly, last Monday, I got a text from the other of the two friends asking for a favor, that I might dance with him at church on Sunday. It seems I rarely turn down an opportunity to perform because I said yes, even when he told me we’d have to dance seven times throughout the day. The creative process leading up to Sunday consisted of just two practices, but we were certainly amazed at how God used even those short moments together to help us choreograph a story of love between two characters. I got proposed to seven times in one day! (That Sunday’s theme was “Marry Me!”)
3. The calendar fills up without even trying.
Barely a few weeks into the year, 2013 was already shaping itself up. Dates were getting blocked out for events, like weddings or trips. We were setting quarterly targets at work. With my Buhay Makulay team we were setting program dates and casting visions. So on and so forth. But the spaces underneath dates are now tied down in scribbles. First in vague ideas, but more and more concrete as the weeks go by.
I’ve noticed how nice it is to be able to think of a year in calendar quarters, rather than school semesters. My calendar no longer revolves around an academic schedule (with the sad loss of casualties like summer break and winter break), but I can now look at a year in full and wide perspective, not broken up and spilling into another year. I like this view a lot better. It makes more sense to me, a steady ebb and flow of months and seasons. Although I panicked a little when I realized how far ahead things could be arranged! I already have an idea of what my December looks like, even from this end of the calendar year.
Now wasn’t that a mouthful of a post?! Bottom line? 2013, what an adventure it will be to slowly unwrap you! I just hope I find time to write about it.