• A brown Madonna

      Eliseo Art Silva, Inang Kayumanggi ng California (The Brown Madonna of California), 2022. Acrylic on canvas, 25 x 30 inches. (Photo – Courtesy of the artist)

      Forest Lawn Museum, in Glendale, presents Filipino California: Art and the Filipino Diaspora, a contemporary art exhibition offering a range of perspectives on Filipino culture.

      By News Desk

      The exhibition at Forest Lawn showcases the work of seven contemporary artists working across styles and formats, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, conceptual art, and more. The artists in the exhibit—Eliseo Art Silva, Allison Hueman, Anthony Francisco, Maryrose Cobarrubias Mendoza, Christine Morla, Maria Villote, and Junn Roca—directly and indirectly address issues related to Filipino culture and the Filipino-American experience.

      Eliseo Art Silva is among the most visible Filipino-American artists today. One of his major public art projects in Los Angeles is Talang Gabay: Our Guiding Star (2022), the gateway arch in Historic Filipinotown. Silva was born in Manila and migrated to the United States when he was seventeen. Today he has studios in both the United States and the Philippines. Silva’s studio art incorporates elements of surrealism and is charged with political meaning. It examines his experiences as an immigrant and honors the sacrifices and contributions of Filipinos in America.

      Allison Hueman is an Oakland-based artist whose diverse portfolio includes outdoor murals, fine art painting, and immersive installations. Hueman first gained prominence with her street art, and she is recognized for her distinct style, which she calls “etherealism.” Her artwork has a dreamlike quality that combines human figures with abstract elements and gauzy layers. Filipino California features new paintings by Hueman, including one inspired by The Mystery of Life, a sculpture at Forest Lawn created in 1928 by Italian artist Ernesto Gazzeri.

      Anthony Francisco is a creator, director, illustrator, and concept artist who has worked on a range of creative projects, including more than twenty films. For nine years, he worked as a Senior Visual Development Artist for Marvel Studios. Throughout his career, Francisco has used inspiration and influences from Filipino culture when designing new characters. He is currently developing multiple projects, including an animated series on Filipino folklore and a vast science-fiction universe called Creature Chronicles.

      Christine Morla is a multidisciplinary artist best known for her installations that examine color, texture, and scale. Inspired by the Philippine banig, handwoven mats used for sleeping and sitting, Morla creates labor-intensive installations with hundreds of pieces of painted paper, found materials, and smaller weavings. Her work explores the complexities of contemporary identity, with each element of her installations contributing to vibrant works that investigate cultural signifiers within and outside of her own inspirations and influences.

      Maryrose Cobarrubias Mendoza is a multidisciplinary artist who examines the impact of history, memory, and nostalgia on individual experience. She was raised in Manila before emigrating to Los Angeles as a young child. Mendoza plays with scale, material, and perspective to transform existing images and objects into new artworks. Her work is intended as an act of decolonization that asks viewers to reconsider the history, context, and value of these objects and experiences. Among her many accolades, Mendoza was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts in 2019.

      Maria Villote was born in Manila and immigrated to the United States at the age of ten. Her artwork explores assimilation, cultural alienation, and feelings of foreignness. Many of her pieces use recognizable objects in surprising or unexpected ways. Villote aims to highlight the cultural amalgamation that occurs when two worlds collide, drawing analogies between cultures while exploring similarities and differences.

      For over forty years, Junn Roca has worked in both fine art and commercial art. He was born and raised in the Philippines, where he apprenticed for noted Filipino painter Felix Gonzales. After moving to the United States in 1979, Roca began a successful career in the animation industry, working as a background artist and earning two Emmy Awards. Today Roca works primarily as a plein air painter, and the exhibition shows scenes ranging from rustic villages in the Philippines to iconic California landscapes.

      The exhibition was curated by Museum Director James Fishburne, PhD. He said, “We are thrilled to showcase this group of artists and their expressions of Filipino culture across genres and styles. From Anthony Francisco’s contributions to popular culture, to Allison Hueman’s influence in the realms of street art and studio painting, the artists in this exhibition offer us a better understanding of Filipino culture and its impact on contemporary society.”

      The exhibition will be on view at Forest Lawn Museum until September 8, 2024. If you have questions, email museum@forestlawn.com or call 323-340-4782.

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