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Filipino Fulbright scholar in US immersion creates coconut fiber sculpture

MEET THE ARTIST Razel Mari with Sita

Filipino product designer Razel Mari created a coconut fiber sculpture dubbed Sita to represent the concept of impermanence.

With its name derived from the Filipino word bisita, which means visitor, the piece encapsulated the experiences of the 26-year-old as a Fulbright Silvermine Program artist-in-residence at the prestigious Silvermine Arts Center (SAC) in Connecticut.

It reflects his ruminations during his stay in the historic neighborhood close to nature, as well as the various living forms that spent time with him in his studio. “The serene area surrounded by woods and a pond made it possible for different creatures to visit me while I was working there,” he recalled.

To capture the essence of ephemerality, the young innovator utilized the wonders of natural materials and seamlessly wove coconut fibers, as well as sticks and twines from the forest to build an amalgamation of his guests.

Razel learned the fundamentals and techniques of weaving from mentorship trainings with the master artisans of Pulilan, Bulacan.

The Industrial Design graduate from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) shared that using coconut fibers as his primary medium, which are found and widely used in the Philippines, reminded him of the fond memories he had back home.

The finished work features the body and hind legs of a deer, the talons of a heron, and the slender neck of a fisher. A polished soapstone fragment was also incorporated for its eyes.

In the duration of his residency, he finished experimentation outputs such as a dainty soapstone bird and wheel-thrown ceramic wares.

“Being aware of my limited time there has made me reflect on life. The more we are aware that things will end, the more we cherish them,” he said.

Given the temporary nature of the work itself, he explained that it is a reminder to embrace the transience of things. “As Sita is in the outdoors, it will slowly be taken by the earth,” he said. “Whether by passive elements, to include rain, the sun or snow, or by active means such as birds using the fibers for their own nests, the entire structure will be part of the ecosystem it occupies.”

The Fulbright Silvermine Program is a flagship educational and cultural exchange effort managed by the non-profit organization International Institute of Education (IIE).

The academic initiative granted Razel Mari the opportunity to attend classes and access the outstanding facilities of SAC to foster his creative, intellectual, and professional growth. He also had the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary projects with the faculty members and prominent mentors of the institution.

He expressed that he enjoyed making artwork to open conversations about realities, usually through fun and humor, and advised his fellow designers that learning is a lifetime process and a humbling quest.

“We live in a beautiful world that’s always full of wonderful surprises, we just need to be open about it,” he said.

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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