Art immersion reconnects artists with homeland

Community News & Features Aug 23, 2013 at 6:38 pm
Loisel Wilson Oñate

Loisel Wilson Oñate


By Rachelle Cruz
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Loisel Wilson Oñate migrated to Canada when she was only 9 years old. Born in the Village of Nabannagan in the Valley of Cagayan, her grandparents raised her while her mother worked overseas. It wasn’t until almost a decade later that she reunited with her mother. Her art pieces reflect the challenges and struggles she coped up with using the theme of separation anxiety as an anchor for her visual art work.

“I think from Clutch I grew to accept the in-between, the ‘hybridity’. Working with Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture definitely made me trust myself more, creating something or even performing. All of the workshops we did for the past five months have helped me realize being away from my homeland. Separating from relationships which are a dominant theme in my life,” she explained.

Oñate’s art piece (3 PHOTO: Rachelle Cruz)

Oñate’s art piece (3 PHOTO: Rachelle Cruz)

One of Oñate’s pieces depicts her personal struggles in the form of montage/collage and writings in her native language Ilocano. “I wrote this very comfortably because not a lot of people can understand it. But in the end I wanted to do a bit of English and Tagalog in it as well to kind of balance it out,” she said.

Oñate is one of the CLUTCH Volume 5 participants, a five-month arts-based Filipino cultural immersion program for young women between 17 to 24. For the very first time, CLUTCH participants mount a final exhibition coinciding with KULTURA held at Kapisanan on August 9.

The intensive workshops of storytelling, print making, installation, graphic design and poetry facilitated by mentors are a way for them to explore their cultural identity and reconcile the dislocation from their homeland through the art. This year particularly explores the dual nature of BIDA and KONTRABIDA.

“The BIDA means hero, KONTRABIDA means antagonist and these obstacles are internal. As a second generation Filipina removed from your homeland and your culture, it’s almost you’re holding yourself back (because of your inner struggles) so there’s that duality present between one person,” Nicole Cajucom, Clutch Program Coordinator expressed.

CLUTCH-EXHIBIT_DSC_2196Cajucom further explained that the KONTRABIDA theme is fitting for this group because there’s a disconnect between them and their homeland. The entire program has always been a journey to reconnect with themselves, and their culture.

“There’s an interesting concept of freefalling, related to art, and I think that’s the best way to describe the faith of letting it go, because once I have that for myself then I can extend it to other works or to the world,” Oñate smiled.