The ethnic weaves of Jane Arrieta Ebarle

Striking a balance between identity and creativity

Striking a balance between identity and creativity

By Barbara Mae Dacanay

Artist Jane Arrieta Ebarle uses images identified with progressive women: ethnic figuration and weaves, but her visual concoctions are enlivened with abstract-expressionism making her paintings original and authentic.

Her latest collection of “Hibla” (Weaves) will be on exhibit at the Philippine Center from March 17 to 25, her sixth solo show. While in New York, she will be joining a group exhibit at Bliss on Bliss Art Gallery in Sunnyside, from March 17 to May 18.

Using oil on canvas, Jane has worked and reworked on her weaves images “with frenzy” for the past four years. With spontaneous experimentation, she said she found “my very own style staring at me.”

This happened around 2008 when she decided to become a “full-time professional weekend artist.” Jane, the mother of three grown-up children, is the senior marketing manager of Manila’s Crown Supply Corporation which pushes art materials and writing implements. An arts graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, she also worked with a company that marketed Barbie dolls in the Philippines.

Recalling her growth as an artist – a very interesting story – Jane talked about an uneasy path quite common among women trying to strike a balance between identity and creativity.

“I got married early in the ‘80s, worked hard, had children, got separated in 2001, finished my undergraduate course at UST, became president of the Philippine Art Educators Association, turned feminist during a graduate course on Women and Development Studies at the University of the Philippines, joined Kasibulan, a women’s artist organization, until I decided to become me — an artist joining group shows and mounting solo exhibits every year,” she said, summing up her journey.

She initially dabbled in figurative and floral designs until the ethnic patterns of tribal groups led her to the abstraction phase.

Her first abstract works based on the indigenous designs of tribal groups in northern Luzon and southern Philippines were exhibited in a one-woman show entitled “Filipino Ethnicity.” It was held at the Philippine Heart Center gallery in 2008.
She mounted more vibrant abstract pieces that were inspired solely by the ethnic patterns of the Maranao tribe in the southern Philippines. Later, she graduated into weaves and fabric-inspired patterns, creating colorful abstract works that dominated her succeeding exhibits.

“What I’m doing is a fusion of ethnicity and modernism. The patterns are consciously and intentionally acquired, but rendered like modern symbols that are no longer ethnic – but expressions of myself,” said Jane.

She explained the creative process on how she simulates her weaves. “I work flat on the table, or on the floor, to create thick strands of weaves with colors. I start with a well-structured shape that I eventually break. I start with specific shapes and colors, but I’m not technical about it. Shapes and colors, in abstract art, tend to attain a life of their own. The only thing that I do is bring out a kind of spontaneous life and light on my work, from my mind and heart. I don’t stop until I sense a mysterious spiritual feeling on my canvas.”

From New York, Jane will proceed to San Francisco to “privately sell some art works to relatives,” said this artist known for her endearing humility.

A fusion of ethnicity and modernism

A fusion of ethnicity and modernism

Barbara Mae Dacanay is a freelance writer. She lives in Manila with her family.

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