Paz Abad Santos
One of the most notable Filipina visual artists living today, Paz “Ching” Abad Santos has devoted her entire life to art, not just as a form of expression and empowerment, but also as a tool for inspiration and healing. Ching’s use of fabric and indigenous materials garnered her awards both here and abroad. In addition, this passion allowed her to become a socially responsible and contributive member of the community. This short documentary features several of her notable works and causes.
Her artworks, larger-than-life yet inherently personal, has made her a focal contributor to the local indigenous and fabric art scene. Delirious Spin, a visual opus composed of local textiles and found fabrics, earned her a Gold Medal from the Art Association of the Philippines. Her T’nalak series, a collection of enormous patterned weaves reflecting the fibercraft of the T’boli tribe of Mindanao, tackles gender- and racial-based viewpoints in Philippine society, particularly among the indigenous tribes. Her Sarimanok is a compelling marriage of tapestry and painting, a “best of both worlds” approach that never ceases to awe and inspire.
Yet her art is not confined only in museums and art galleries. Now 70 years old, Ching is currently active in spreading art as a therapeutic tool. Although the healing power of art in the physical sense has yet to have any scientific conclusion, Ching believes that art helps alleviate the burden in the patient’s psyche. Through drawings, colors and other artistic expressions, the patients learn to channel their emotional suffering through art. For decades she has conducted “art therapies” to patients with chronic sickness, helping them relieve psychological pain caused by illness.
She also invented “Fabric of Life… Series to Infinity”, a simple yet innovative system in helping the visually impaired express themselves through art. This system consists of tiles with strands corresponding to a certain color. It acts as a code to help the visually impaired distinguish between colors and create a visual pattern through the tiles, even without them seeing the actual artwork. This ground-breaking system is unique in the world, and Ching has filed several patents for it.
The documentary also includes interviews from women touched by Ching’s art. Curators, former professors, students, friends and family members all share their views and opinions about the woman, her art and her character.