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Filipina artist steadily sculpting a life in New York

Lorina Tayag-Capitulo

Artist Lorina Tayag-Capitulo. CONTRIBUTED

NEW YORK – Growing up in Pampanga, Angeles City, Lorina Tayag-Capitulo was always with her father, who drew giraffes and made flowers from cigarette foil and created “bahay kubo” out of coconut midribs. Lorina soon started sketching cartoon figures like Sanrio characters. Now, she is a full-blown sculptor who’s gaining recognition for her artistry.

Since the 1990s Lorina has been exhibiting her paintings and sculptures in the Philippines and the United States.

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She represented the Philippines at the ASEAN Sculpture Exhibition and Workshop in 1997, hosted by Brunei Darussalam. She was a grant awardee of the New York State Council on the Arts’ Decentralization Program in 2001 for the project “Dream Weavers,” which portrayed gifted and talented young children.

The highlight of her career was the presentation of her “Floating Cubes” in Times Square, New York in 2002 and the exhibition of her sculpture “Refuse” at the famous Heckscher Museum in Long Island during the Art Biennial in 2012.

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early work of Lorina, 1986

An early work by Lorina Tayag-Capitulo. CONTRIBUTED

Her most recent exhibition was in 2015 –“Territory: Unlimited,” a group exhibition featuring artwork by the Society of Philippine-American Artists (SPAA) at Topaz Arts Inc., Woodside, New York.

In 2014 her “Anthropogenic” was a finalist in the BACCA Arts Center Annual Art Competition in Babylon, New York.

“Anitya: Memento & Nostalgia” was her solo exhibit at the Philippine Center in New York City on 2014.

She graduated a bachelor of fine arts major in sculpture from the University of the Philippines in 1996; but she is also into painting. Married to Jose Ariel, a US citizen, they have a son, Felix Paolo, and currently reside in Long Island, New York.

“It is my art that got me into UP (University of the Philippines), not really my academic inclination,” Lorina Tayag-Capitulo recalls.

Refuse

“Refuse.” CONTRIBUTED

I flunked the UPCAT, but it did not deter me from pursuing my passion. But when I applied to the College of Fine Arts in 1987, I ranked Number 1 in UP Talent Determination Test,” Lorina explains.

“I grew up without television, no internet. I could not even afford to go to the malls or disco. My environment was farm lands, the Bunduk Alaya (Mt. Arayat), pigs, chickens and farm animals,” she says. Having no interruptions, she improved her craft, which enabled her to carve a niche on the Philippine art scene and in other countries.

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Discovering her talent, people always asked her to decorate bulletin boards and design stage sets and compete in inter-school competitions. She then found Mix-Up, an organization that had regular art exhibits and held workshops.

While at UP, Lorina started selling her paintings, starting from 900 pesos. This was enough to pay for her first semester, which cost 800 pesos. Pablo Picasso, Van Gogh, Dali and the Futurist artists influence her art. She describes her work as abstract, social realist/surrealist/futurist. She is also into experimental arts, using cubes and chess pieces.

out of sight out of mind

Out of Sight, Out of Mind. CONTRIBUTED

Lorina art reflects her childhood experiences and the revival of the lost Pampanga crafts like making horsewhips and caretelas (horse-drawn carriages). Usually, her husband gives the titles to her works. Environment, culture and women are her favored themes.

Back in the Philippines, Lorina worked as a full time artist, sometimes doing jobs on the side like commissioned replicas of the Virgin Mary, dolls and Christmas decorations.

Lorina and son, Felix, emigrated to the United States in the early 2000s to join Jose Ariel. Like her art Lorina has had to evolve to be able to survive in the US. She is currently working in Newsday.com, a Long Island-based magazine as a photo researcher. Prior to that, she worked odd-jobs too.

“One time, I worked at Macy’s during the holiday season putting up Christmas décor. I wanted to pursue my art, but it was very odd and strange. Our art reflects the social environment we live in,” she says. Lorina also lectures about her art in various colleges in New York.

Cara-cycle or cara bao

Cara-Cycle or Cara Bao. CONTRIBUTED

Lorina says that they are not well off because her father had been ill for a long time. He used to work in a bank, but a threat to his life resulting from a deal related to land titles, made him ill; he died recently.

Whenever time permits, Lorina goes back to art as a way of expressing herself and trying to make a name in the United States.

“America is a land of opportunities. Just like any artist here in America, most of us have day jobs, to make a living to sustain our daily needs.  We do all the work at home like cleaning, fixing house, doing the laundry, tending to the garden etc.,” she says.

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TAGS: "Refuse", “Dream Weavers”, “Floating Cubes”, “Territory: Unlimited”, ASEAN Sculpture Exhibition and Workshop 1997, Filipina sculptor Long Island, fine arts, Heckscher Museum, Lorina Tayag-Capitulo, New York State Council on the Arts’ Decentralization Program in 2001, sculpture, Society of Philippine-American Artists (SPAA), visual art
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