Take My Spirit, Give Me Spirit
Artwork by Pamela Ybañez
This recent body of work reflects coming to terms with motherhood, examining the emotion of anger in connection with the body, disassembling craft vs. art construct and continuing to reconnect with my Filipino heritage. For this series I used fabric from the Philippines, Filipino textile patterns found from a book were also transferred onto lino block prints while incorporating hand sewing, multi-panel assemblage and heat embossing.
The intensity of motherhood with all of its struggles and joys has inescapably become a focus in my work. At times I have felt my spirit being taken, but more recently I feel it starting to return as my daughter and I continue to gain more independence. The idea of spirit also deals with the emotion of anger, examining how it can be healing as well as harmful within my body. Anger has been a strong theme in my life from childhood into adulthood. I’ve learned to respect the emotion trying not to deny it, but also creating space to process and heal from it. To reflect this I use high flowing acrylic paint in colors that relate to the body such as reds and browns. I wanted to visually explore this emotion in a fluid way allowing the paint run their course, while finding a balance between control and freedom.
Textiles, sewing, and embossing are traditionally not part of the “fine art” sphere and since it has often been made by women, it’s been considered craft and therefore inferior. I’m continuing to dismantle such harmful patriarchal notions through this work.
Some of the colorful fabric that can be seen throughout comes from Davao City in the Philippines. The patterns I transferred on lino block were found in a book called Fabric Treasures of the Philippines. To provide some context for a few of the patterns used in this work see the list below.
|From Southern Mindanao of the Bagobo peoples.
Abaca fiber with applique Chinese glass beads and
brass plated sequins, creating human figures and
|A head cloth of the Mandaya peoples in Southern
Mindanao. Cotton cloth from commercial flour sack
dyed rust brown and applique beads and tufts of
horsehair. Cloth is reserved for warriors and it
signifies the warrior has killed two or more persons.
|This pattern was found on a woman’s jacket from
Southern Mindanao. Tritik dying method on abaca
dyed red. The motif that appears to be bar bell like in
shape is called lindog and represents the spirit of the
people. Also contains human stylized figures
suggesting male, female and neuter figures.
|This blanket detail is from the Bila-an peoples in
Southern Mindanao. Ikat dying method on abaca
fiber dyed red and black with vegetable dye. This
pattern is part of a textile that is considered
prestigious and used in rituals including as part of a
|Male trousers of Kulaman people in Mindanao circa
1850-1925, made of abaca (banana plant) and
cotton. On display at the Asian Art Museum.