Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

4/15/2007

Spend a Day with an Artist

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

ALMA Quinto, whose work with soft sculpture has earned her recognition not only in the Philippines but on the international scene as well, provides an alternative to the heavy stressful work traditional sculpture represents. She uses her art as a form of healing especially with sexually abused young women at CRIBS.


Alma Quinto has advocated soft sculpture- an art she developed while taking classes at the University of the Philippines. She says the female build can only handle so much stress working with the often-tough materials of sculpture and she sought to bring the same principles of the art with another, less stressful medium. From there, the experimentation with the malleable Uratex foam and an evolution of an art form began.

Soft sculpture essentially begins with soft foam in place of a block of marble. From there, chisels are replaced by cutters and scissors. The final sculpted form is covered in cloth. Patterns and designs can be incorporated by additional cloth sewed onto the sculpture. From there, it’s all up the artist’s imagination.

By grounding her work in Philippine native icons, she is also able to espouse and introduce the Philippine culture to the public while also giving children the freedom and leeway to touch, feel and play with a piece of art. “Naskayan at nadagaanan na’t lahat yang exhibition ko at walang nangyari,” says Alma at the resilience of soft sculpture.

Her art form was uniquely introduced through an interactive learning workshop sponsored by the Ayala Museum. Participants have only to register at the Greenbelt 3 fountain area in front of Starbucks and Seattle’s Best to spend a half-day with the artist and try their hand at a new form of art. The session is open to all willing to try something new and go under the heat of the afternoon sun (4- 6 p.m. each Saturday of April).

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Like any new experience, the first challenge is simply to show up. The apprehension of the unknown is always present -- who knows who might be there and to be on display at Greenbelt 3 fountain area for all to see (?!) -- what a preposterous idea. But then, I would have missed an enriching experience and a chance to rekindle a forgotten fire.

As I feared, the session was outdoors under the hot and humid summer weather. I was in for a baking and the small bubbling fountain a few steps away did nothing for me.

On registration, a small kit was also distributed which consisted of all the basics of beginning soft sculpture— primer leaflet, cloth, scissors, cutter, block of foam, a needle, a roll of thread and tons of pins. From there, it’s up to your imagination and occasional consultations with the artist of the day.

While buckling down, additional people were asked to sit on the table I shared with my sister. I looked around and saw families, children, young women and even a surprising yuppie-outfitted young man.

Among them was Melinda, sporting a short snowy white hair and loose clothing fit for the summer, she exuded a very peaceful aura. Like women who have nothing to do, we engaged each other in conversation while making our little pieces of art.

Gradually, after getting through the initial rounds of getting-to-know-you’s, my sister and I found a truly lovely woman, a wife, a mother of 3, grandmother of 10, and an artist’s soul.

Subtitle: Melinda with the bright eyes and an artist’s soul

Suddenly, I understood why this art form was used for healing. It gave women a reason to bond together in a non-confrontational setting. It also provided them with an avenue to express who they are.

Throughout the day, the simple soft sculpture I was making a morphed into something I was excited to finish. The long hours sculpting, sewing, and patching melded into one haven of a period—where I could simply let my hands do the work while my mind was contemplating. It becomes almost a meditation, an introspection.

Finally, I understood. That artist on that day was not just Alma Quinto but every body that had the courage to show up and sit on those tables. The summer heat cooled into the early nighttime and it was sadly time to go.

Subtitle: Me and my soon-to-be turtle sculpture

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A Day with an Artist workshop series will run all the Saturdays of April. April 21 will feature Kontra Gapi advocating world music. April 28 will feature John Pettyjohn to share his work on pottery. Check www.ayalamuseum.org or call 7577117 to 21 local 29 for more information.


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