UP College of Fine Arts Studio Arts Department faculty member and Master of Fine Arts candidate Abdulmari “Toym” Imao Jr. won Special Citation in the 2017 Metrobank Art and Design Excellence (MADE) national competition.
He and the three grand winners in the sculpture and painting categories received their prizes consisting of a trophy designed by Metrobank prize recipient Noell El Farol and cash assistance, on September 21, 2017 at Le Pavillon, Pasay City.
According to the awards program, a special citation is awarded to “a finalist worthy of distinct mention”. Imao won for “Monument for the Pursuit of Happiness”, his work in pounded brass, stainless steel, and galvanized iron.
“The sculpture features the growth and blossoming of an individual depicted by different family milestones that are shown from every side of the work,” according to the awards program.
“When I was invited to the competition by the organizers, the ‘Tree of Life’ theme instantaneously came to my mind. As I was developing the design, I thought of making a public art work that would also have a subtext of an homage to Mindanao, through a colorful contemporary tree fashioned from a deconstructed sarimanok,” Imao told UP News.
“I was doing two other works inspired by the sarimanok at that time: a float design for the ASEAN parade in Manila, and ‘Manara’, an interactive moro-inspired installation at the Ayala Museum, which moved to Davao, then Cebu. I see these installations as a continuation of alternative public art works I started at the UP Palma Hall steps in 2014,” he said.
“I dedicate the ‘Monument for the Pursuit of Happiness’ to Marawi, which is currently under siege,” Imao added.
The awarding ceremony took place in the middle of a hectic week for him, when he participated in several arts events and protest actions related to the martial law anniversary. “In these dark times of death and attacks on the institutions of our democracy, our art can be used as a weapon of illumination,” Imao posted on Facebook.
According to toymimao.com, he is a sculptor, painter, and, recently, production designer for film and stage. A UP Architecture graduate, he earned an M.F.A. Sculpture from Maryland Institute College of Arts under a Fulbright scholarship. His works include: the Tandang Sora National Shrine in Quezon City; the Andres Bonifacio National Shrine in Maragondon, Cavite; and, the Dr. Jose P. Rizal statue in Carson City, California. Imao is the son of National Artist Abdulmari Imao.
The MADE national competition is a program of the Metrobank Foundation aimed at recognizing Filipino artists and designers in the field of painting, sculpture, interior design, and architecture. The sculpture recognition program is open to Filipino professional sculptors who have staged at least one solo exhibition. Some of the prominent artists who were once MADE prize-holders are Mark Justiniani, Elmer Borlongan, Emmanuel Garibay, Andres Barrioquinto, Sajid Imao, Ronald Ventura, and Jan Leeroy New. (Jo. Lontoc, UP MPRO)