By Raymart Dela Cruz
A plastic bag with tin cans, plastic materials, and fabrics is headed to the landfill. But wait! For one couple, there is a lot more to do with this rubbish. Some of these pieces can be turned into art—a can of beer highlighted with a Santa toy, dressed as an American superhero, and a Filipina Saya made from recycled fabrics. What are these works telling us?
Husband and wife tandem Mideo M. Cruz and Racquel De Loyola Cruz have been exploring different kinds of arts by using excess materials to help protect the environment. The core of their masterpieces is recycling supplies that can be found readily around every corner.
Mideo’s awareness of different social issues motivated him to do artworks from materialism excess which he defines as the products produced in bulk, but are not consumed, like plastics, cans, tins, etc.
He does his artworks as self-reaction on social issues as well as on immediate environmental concerns. His art expresses how the issues are triggering him to speak and express his emotions.
“We must listen to the environment,” says Mideo. He stressed that we must do something with capitalism that has a big impact on our environmental system; the illegal bombing of Lumads to build a mining industry in the mountains; the production of waste, and irresponsibly profiting from natural resources. While not against mining, Mideo says he’s looking forward to how the capitalists will be responsible for their businesses.
On the other hand, Raquel uses the technique of recycling fabrics into stunning pieces of art, which is more into the ‘Exploration of Fabric Sculpture.’ With a lot of fabrics at home and several ukay-ukay stalls everywhere, she started to make artworks that mirror cultural symbols.
“Relearn those knowledge from the past,” she mentioned. She added that the lessons and cultural beliefs of the indigenous people can be the basis of science and the modern world in conserving the planet.
She also believes that there’s nothing wrong with modernization as well as we’re in the middle of balancing the scenarios, using science and modern living but still protecting our environment.
Distinct art styles
When Mideo first attempted doing the art of recycling, he began to look over the trash in his own house—beer and soft drink cans and unused and broken toys of his child. He figured out how he could transform these into figures that will invoke meaning.
“Walang limitasyon ang imahinasyon” is Mideo’s motto when creating his abstract painting or sculpture. He believes that the interpretation of an artwork depends upon the individual’s experiences.
One of the pieces in his exhibit is a Mickey Mouse figure as a capitalist with a gun in his hand, pointing to a skeleton. Behind him is a tree that has lost its leaves, and mountains behind the scene.
Raquel’s fabric sculpture and expressive arts performances are her way of addressing the issues on women, colonization, globalization, and commodity, during this time of uncertainty. It is visible in her interpretation of Babaylan and Mebuyan sculptures.
The couple with their child resides in Gapan City, Mideo’s hometown. He calls his art studio there Bangan Project Space. But aside from practicing their art, they also enjoy planting trees and ornamentals.
We may say that they are the epitome of using art to express their concern for the environment. Moreover, as part of their advocacy, along with their team, they have visited high schools to showcase their unusual and diverse art expressions, with the hope of encouraging the youth to utilize “environment-friendly” art.
This article was written and prepared by Raymart Dela Cruz (Student-Journalist) and Ma. Andrea Soliman (School Paper Adviser) from Juan R. Liwag Memorial High School, Division of Gapan City as a final output of DepEd-DRRMS and AYEJ.org’s Green Beat Initiative: An Online Environmental Journalism Training.