Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

1/07/2009

Drawing the Contours of Life

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

It was a pleasure to finally interview CD, my former art teacher in college. Aside from a shared history, I've always wondered at her own path to the arts. Our interview occurred in the midst of her drawing class and it transported me back half a decade in the past.
~*C

Text by: Carren Jao
Published: MEGA December 2008

Christina Dy moves us through life that happens within the details

“FOCUS on what the drawing looks like, and not what you think it should look like,” Christina Dy, a petite woman with pixie-cut hair, explains one Saturday morning along the halls of CCP. CD to her friends, Christina certainly knows what she’s talking about, being someone who has been drawing for over a decade.
Down-to-earth and more approachable than the stereotypical artist label would connote, one would not take her for an artist who has been short-listed for the prestigious Ateneo Art Awards. Dressed in a soft pink top, black pants, and comfortable flipflops while teaching a drawing class at Ateneo de Manila University, her lithe figure and chinita features could easily blend with the crowd in Greenhills. Asked if she claims the title of artist, CD laughingly says, “I never say I’m an artist. I just say, ‘I draw’,” as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Living large
CD favors large-scale works such as the recently concluded Soaplands in CCP, her largest drawing to date at 5 feet by 90 feet in size. Soaplands stretched from one end of the CCP 2nd level hallway to the other. Consuming up to a 100 charcoal sticks in 3 weeks, CD effectively miniaturizes audiences, transporting them into a world of blossoms and water droplets. Curtains Matching Carpet, another large-scale work done on the walls of Silverlens Gallery, surrounded the viewer in the fluid movement of hair. “I like big works,” says CD, “because you can move with it, with small works parang restricted.”

She continues, “That’s also probably why I like using charcoal; it’s tactile.” Unlike a paintbrush, there is no intervening body between the artist and the art. The charcoal is tangible, and the effect on the artist is almost visceral. A friend of hers also recounts CD’s quirky creative process, where she lies on a huge piece of canvas, thinking of what to draw. To which CD lightly rebuts, “Only because I have no more space!”

“And para yung energy mo ma-transfer sa canvas [so that your energy will be transferred to the canvas],” she inserts after some thought, evincing the amount of energy that goes into her chosen profession. Indeed, her art almost seems to be a jealous lover, prompting her to leave her other life as an accomplished production designer.

Choosing commitment
Despite working with the likes of Quark Henares and Marie Jamora, as well as earning a Gawad Urian nomination for Big Time and Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, she made the difficult decision to focus on her drawing. “Parang I wasn’t getting any better, tapos ang art [ko] laging madali [It seems I wasn’t getting any better, and my art was always hurried.]… I realized I had to make a decision and stick with it.”

CD cites Michael Phelps’ dedication as an example. “He didn’t get there gimmick-ing every night… He swims, eats, and sleeps.” In the same way, CD draws six to ten hours each day undoing people’s concept of an artist that simply produces works on a whim and carouses at night.

CD’s process reveals the great emotional and temporal investment that goes into each work – a work that reflects her own internal landscape. From the subtle nuances of flowing hair to the provocative quality of clothes strewn carelessly on the floor, CD finds herself attracted – drawn to capture it on charcoal and canvas. Hers are works that play in the corners of the mind, like a whispered suggestion lingering long after its first appearance; after which, one is hopelessly enchanted, waiting for more.
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Catch more of CD’s work in the Silverlens Lab on March 2009.

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