Mindanao Artists Show How Art Can Make Peace

ZAMBOANGA CITY – In an effort to deliver the message of peace artistically, 19 renowned visual artists from all over southern Philippines staged an art exhibit at the local National Museum in line with the observance of the Mindanao Week of Peace.

More than 40 art pieces were displayed during the weeks-long show at the right-wing of the centuries-old Spanish fort-turned-museum.

The art exhibit, dubbed as “Artes y Paz” (art and peace), was formally opened to the public on December 1. The salvo was attended by different religious groups locally and internationally, peace advocates, local officials and art enthusiasts.

“Through our art works, we hope we can contribute to the movement to free Mindanao from the different levels and forms of conflict,” said Tausug-Zamboangueno artist Rameer A. Tawasil, who organized the event.

Rev. Fr. Angel C. Calvo, CMF, president of Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), who is initiated the weeklong peace celebration in the city, said the art exhibit signified that Mindanao stakeholders should work collectively to create a peaceful environment in the South amid continuing hostilities in Central Mindanao and in the neighboring island provinces.

The participating artists were Tawasil, Al-qasmi Lakibul, Chito Alvarez, Kit Lorenzo, city councilor Gerky Valesco, Jupiter Pollisco, Saad T’laa, Jojo Martinez, Juni Grapa, Kurt lluch, Leah Padilla, Raymund Malicay, Errol Balcos, Nick Aca, Ivan Macarambon, Joel Geolamen, Jake Vamenta, Nonoy Estarte, Michelle Lau-ta Naw, and Michael Bacol Lagos.

Among the art pieces are the abstract series of Cagayan de Oro-based Aca’s “Inner Peace” and mixed media art on “Lead Me lord,” which comes from the medium of metallic lead.

Tawasil also unleashed three charcoal and pencil drawings on peace meditation entitled “The Flight.”

Martinez, who is a practicing architect in Dipolog City, displayed his unique colourful 14” by 14” hologram collage art piece called “Malinawon” or (peaceful in Bisayan).

“When you keenly view the semi-three dimension of my art, there is a message of calmness. The layered colors represent the diversity of the people here in Mindanao, which connotes the beauty of harmonious relationships,” the 60 year-old Martinez said, who is also a sculptor.

Young Lakibul, who is known for his colourful and intricate Arabic-inspired calligraphy, also put on display several peace-minded artworks.

Newcomer local visual artists Pollisco, Lorenzo, Alvarez and others put on view their own canvasses whose subjects were the daily life of Badjaos, scenic landscapes, and flowers.

Tawasil said they have been conducting art exhibits in past years to strengthen the effort of peace building in Mindanao.

“Next year, we are planning to stage an art caravan, wherein we will conduct a series of exhibits in key areas of Mindanao,” he said, adding that “in this way stakeholders will get to learn our advocacy and in a way encourage them to join us, too.”

What is unique with the art exhibit, Tawasil said, is that the participating artists were informed a little late, and “surprisingly they have already peace-related art pieces ready.”

Visual art, which is widely considered as an effective tool for social change, has been part of PAZ’s culture of peace workshops conducted during the whole year.

“Art in general, be it music, visual, and literature, has a tremendous effect in influencing the people, such as our goal in creating an atmosphere of peace here in the southern Philippines,” said Fr. Calvo.

The exhibit, which woul run for two months, can be viewed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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