About a year ago, we were thinking of new collaborations for Rags2Riches (R2R). See, for the past 11 years, all of our milestones, successes, and best practices were because of partnerships and collaborations. We like partnering with people who are working in different fields and could teach us surprising things that we could use in order to create more positive impact.
We found Thao Nguyen Phan, a Vietnamese multi-awarded multi-media artist who also advocates for women empowerment and community involvement. We reached out to Thao with our idea of an art collection inspired by and in collaboration with our R2R artisans and she replied with the same level of excitement and curiosity! We were both excited about the possibilities and curious about what we could come up with. See, we come from different countries and cultures and yet, we share the same values, principles, and even advocacy!
Last November 22, 2018, which was also the 11th year anniversary of R2R, we finally launched the very first R2R art collaboration! The collection is called to paint / to weave. It is a series of watercolor paintings by Thao Nguyen Phan on Vietnamese silk. The paintings depict the scenario of women weaving in various forms, the action is removed from its original setting and has become romanticized and idealized in a timeless, non-specific environment. It is an artistic journey that uses the medium of painting to interlace with the medium of weaving. Regardless of their differences in form, functionality, and representation, they share many things in common: both actions are ancient, that connects to the origin of our civilization, are being politicized and commercialized for their potential to be both sublimely beautiful and mundanely functional. To paint or to weave. These gestures remind us why we create, collect, and admire the objects of our culture.
The exhibition will be up at The Curve Gallery, Ateneo Art Gallery, Areté, Ateneo de Manila University until January 20, 2019. Entrance is free and the gallery is open from Tuesdays to Sundays. After January 20, these paintings will be up for sale and part of the proceeds will go to the R2R Artisan Academy.
Our R2R artisans also created a limited number of bags and pouches with the prints of the paintings fused with artisan-crafted panels or tassels. Each bag comes with a card with the signature of Thao Nguyen Phan, our R2R Designer, Chris Cera, and our R2R artisan. You can get one (or more) in the Ateneo Art Gallery itself.
The project is a collaboration between recipients of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise and the Rolex Arts Initiative, made possible by Rolex. In partnership with Areté, Ateneo Art Gallery, Rags2Riches, Bellas Artes Projects, and the Metrobank Foundation.
We are very proud of this collection and collaboration. It taught us many new things but also reminded us of how we got to where we are now. We got here because of the openness to learn, unlearn, and curiosity to still, after all these years, see the ordinary in an extraordinary way.