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LOOK: Art as emotional liberation

by Gaby Agbulos

ON February 17 to 18, the Good Intentions Collective held the “Twin Flames: Valentines Art and Collectibles Market” over at Ayala Malls the 30th. They had promised their eventgoers a number of things: tarot readings, collectibles, and of course, loads and loads of art.

I have always frequented local art events: I just came from Komiket a few weeks back, for example, and would often visit museums and galleries like Vinyl on Vinyl. I know I am no expert on the subject, but I enjoy it nonetheless.

Despite how much I frequent events like these, however, I never seem to get used to just how much emotion I feel as I walk through rows and rows of artworks, the hearts of so many artists shown right on their sleeves – or rather, on their canvases. 

This is the feeling I get any time I attend an art event: an explosion of every feeling, coming from everywhere, all at once. 

Canvases to express emotion

The use of art as a means of dealing with your emotions is no new concept. This is, arguably, what art was made for. 

One such example of this is the art installation that went viral on TikTok. It was created by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, and aptly titled “Can’t Help Myself.” 

It features a machine surrounded by red liquid, and all this machine does is spend the entire day cleaning this mess up over and over again, not seeming to realize that no such progress of cleaning said mess will ever be made. 

Despite it only being a machine, many found themselves heavily relating to it, even commenting on how tired the machine looked after doing the same thing, perhaps for the rest of its existence.

Another example that I hold particularly close to my heart is a comic made by artist Lynda Barry. Here, a mother and son are seen looking at a painting of two people placed up in a museum. 

The mother tells her son, “I’m not sure how to look at art.”

The son replies: “What’s s’posta happen?” 

She replies, “Something big. A revelation. Suddenly you just understand… not sure how to make it happen.”

The son then says, “How ‘bout lift me up so I can see better?’

Then she does. And at that moment, they are a splitting image of the painting they’re looking at: a simple but touching photo. Though there are many ways to interpret this comic, I like to think that it means that we are the ones that give meaning to art; we are the ones that fill it with emotions, that make it special. 

We, the creators, are what make art whole.

Credits: Lynda Barry

We have seen this through history time and time again: we are moved by Da Vinci’s paintings knowing that he was on the verge of suicide as he was making them, or are intrigued by the girl with the pearl earring, or even by “Mona Lisa.”

And though I frequent art exhibits, museums, and cons like that of “Twin Flames,” I feel like you never really get used to that feeling – especially when it’s a smaller, more intimate kind of event. It’s enamoring, really: to be in a room so small but to be able to feel so much, all at once.

POV of an artist

22-year-old Bunnie, the artist behind “Bunnie World,” has been using art as an outlet for her emotions since she was young. She even admits that perhaps she wouldn’t have survived ages 16 to 20 without it. 

Though she would often feel a lot of emotions whenever she would create things, it was often anger that would come up to the surface when she was younger. 

As she’s gotten older, though, her art has become calmer and more therapeutic—she’s using it to help her understand how she feels about certain situations, as well as how to handle them. 

“It’s the number one way [to] express how I feel, and it’s really improved my mental health,” she shared, likening art to a cure, even. 

“There’s a little bit of weight that’s been lifted; it feels a lot easier, lalo na na tangible thing na yung emotions mo, ‘di na siya super clouded in your head.”

Meanwhile, sisters Dia and Nadine use art for almost opposite reasons. 

Dia, for example, is the embroidery artist behind Moody Stitches. Whenever she finds herself bored or stressed, she starts to digitalize, coming up with ideas of new designs for her art. 

She shared: “Before, I get very crammed – parang pine-pressure ko sarili ko – then when I get there, it’s smooth sailing na. [Art] helps me very quietly; I’m not a very expressive person, but doing art or showcasing the type of art I do, it expresses my emotions more.” 

31-year-old Nadine, known through her artist handle Moozle Co., started out by using art as a means of venting out any feelings she had toward her mom, family, or of real life in general. 

Now, though, she often only feels happiness in making her art. While she sees herself as a very dark person deep down, bright, colorful colors are what shine through in the pieces that she makes. 

In any bad things that may happen to her in real life, Nadine does her best to make things lighter in her comics; if she makes a comic about the time she fell down, for example, she’ll later on find herself laughing at what happened.

“When you reflect on it, sa mga negative things, nakakatawa siya kapag naaalala mo siya,” she said.

And while Nadine finds joy in making art, she also has a full-time job alongside this. Instead of struggling between balancing the two, she instead finds herself turning it into an outlet for her emotions. The more stressed she is, the more art she is able to make. 

“Yung art mo, para sa’yo lang yun, wala kang ishe-share,” she explained.

“If you do art and people relate to it, alam ko na it’s because of me. Yung achievements, sa’kin lahat.” 

No matter what you use art for – whether it’s to make others feel happy or to let out the anger you’re feeling inside – know that there is no right or wrong way to do so. If you’re feeling something, or if you’re confused about the feelings bubbling up inside you, know that there is always the option to make something out of it.

When there are dark times in your life, the best thing to do is to take your hurt and turn it into gold.



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