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  • Keana A. Labra

An Interview With Filipino Artist, Amanda Pascual, From Northern California


Like Andy Warhol is to Campbell Noodle Soup and DaVinci is to Mona Lisa, some artists want to have their particular style and flair associated with their art. For Amanda, she wants people to associate her with “cups! I’m sort of kidding. From the subtle color shifts of my paintings to the fun graphic images of my prints, I want people to be able to feel a sense of familiarity and home with my work. Although a lot of my imagery comes from my Filipino American culture, I hope that others would be able to feel a sense of comfort and nostalgia as well. But I paint a lot of coffee cups since that is the source of my comfort (and reminds me of my grandmas).”Amanda reflects on her bond with her grandma, or lola in Tagalog, and her relationship mirrors a major Filipino value: family. This kinship extends beyond blood relatives; “aunties” and “uncles” can be long-time family friends or even strangers. These familial titles herald a sign of respect.

There are artists who work within their ethnic community, and it’s intriguing to hear an artist’s perspective on this kind of “alliance.” When asked if she is still “discovering” new things about herself and the Filipino community, she responds, “any body of work is a continual exploration of yourself. I recently discovered that my love of dance and that sense of movement is something that I incorporate in all of my work.Through my work I have found out a lot about the meaning behind imagery that was so common to me such as the giant wooden fork and spoon. I discovered that in the particular ones that my grandparents own, the seated figures carved on the handle are actually bulul or deities that were used in rituals and ceremonies as guardians over the rice harvests of the Ifugao people in Luzon. The rituals consisted of covering the deity in pigs blood. My original attachment to the form is from my discovery of what an anxious person I can be but this new discovery made me love the bulul figure even more!”

She replies honestly, “I am still new to the art scene, but I hope to inspire Filipino youth to continue to make art; but, more importantly to embrace where you came from. I had a hard time connecting to Filipino culture growing up because I felt like everyone within the community expected me to be a certain way that I was not. I didn’t speak the language, my home didn’t have TFC on all of the time, and I didn’t consider the Philippines to be “home” since my whole life was spent in California. However, being Filipino was a part of my identity in other ways. My love of music and dance, my love of elaborate wood carving and natural textures, my love of textiles and tropical nature, and most importantly my love of my home and family who has always been there for me. Through embracing my origins and my culture, I also embrace part of my identity as well.”

Much like other Asian cultures, Filipinos fall into the habit of encouraging “profitable” careers onto their children, such as becoming a doctor, lawyer, or an engineer. Since we are often not supported in the pursuit of a professional career outside of STEM, we asked Amanda’s stance on art education. To which, she contemplates, “whether you decide to follow STEM or not, art education is still very important in not only boosting our creative thinking but also in broadening our world view. Art goes hand in hand with science through the chemical processes of methods such as lithography, with psychology in which analysis about people can be drawn about the artist through their subject and materials or how people react to the art, and of course politics and history are huge studies that can be drawn from art (my favorite being the abstract expressionist because of the emotional forms painted in reaction to World War II). I really encourage artists to be artists but also for others to study art and art making as well.”

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Keana A. Labra - Milpitas, CA Contributor

With her background in English Literature, Keana would like to learn more about Filipino literature and history to bring an understanding and awareness to the culture. As a Filipino American, she is interested in further researching the impact of the feminist movement and how it affects Filipino tradition. She would also like to uplift the Filipino Americans who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. She hopes to encourage fellow Filipino Americans to participate and immerse themselves in the Filipino culture. Her hobbies include watching anime and reading manga.

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