Domestic worker offers artwork to raise funds for the PHL

'Markers on sketch book'

‘Markers on sketch book’

“Banyuhay” — or metamorphosis — is the theme of Mona Lunot-Kuker’s exhibit of paintings. It also describes her artwork, her personal life and what she believes her typhoon-decimated country of origin, the Philippines, should look forward to.

The exhibit will be on November 30th at the Mountain Province Café, 234 Union Avenue in Brooklyn, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Mona is the only child of an artist who painted on canvases advertising for Philippine movies. By her recollection, her father was “overworked and underpaid.” With that, she learned early on the pleasure of creating art and its heartbreak. Her father created most of the posters and outdoor canvases for films now considered classics of Philippine cinema. He died early, likely poisoned by the materials he had to use, and Mona had to leave school and work.

Her last job in the Philippines was in a foreign-owned electronics factory, where in due time, she and her colleagues went on strike. She joined a hunger strike to force the Department of Labor to take on the case. After 16 days, she collapsed and had to be taken to a hospital. The strike was broken but she emerged from it realizing collective action was the only power for those who had nothing else in their lives.

'The Babaylan'

‘The Babaylan’

Shortly thereafter, she was brought to the U.S. by a couple and ended up working 24/7, caring for a household of two adults and three children in an isolated township. She fled after months of exploitation, hardly knowing anyone or anything about the Tri-state area.

Throughout this series of ordeal, Mona found solace and affirmation in her art, integrating it into her work as a nanny, encouraging the children she cared for to join her in sketching and painting. This generosity of spirit was rewarded by a slow albeit steady recognition from art aficionados. She is now largely known as an artist, though she continues her job as a domestic worker and engages in the discourse on the nature of domestic work.

Mona’s paintings have been described as combining a radical view with a mythological approach, turning the real into iconic representation. It is a unique approach, which confers timelessness to the ordinary, as though what is present is already a memory.

“Ugnayan is honored to sponsor this solo art exhibit and to bring to the public a kind of artist rarely encountered even in the vast diversity of the city of New York,” the organization said in a statement.

Proceeds from the show will go to two Philippine-based non-profits engaged in relief work, Gota de Leche Manila and Tigra, Inc. Please RSVP at 347-298-7964 or by email: rsvp@ugnayanyouth.

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