The Miriam College (MC) MMJ Hall is the heart of the MC administration and activities of its college students. The building was named after Mother Mary Joseph Rogers (1882-1955), the founder of the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, who in turn founded the Maryknoll College in 1926, which would eventually become the MC in 1989. The MC has been known to produce women of substance in government and public service, as well as in entertainment. Some noted MC personalities in show business are the 1973 Miss Universe Margie Moran; beauty queen and actress Maria Rosario “Chat” Silayan-Bailon; actress and environmentalist Maria Carminia Lourdes Cynthia “Chin-Chin” Arnaldo Gutierrez; stage actress and opera singer Karla Gutierrez; models Monica Prado, Andrea Grace Manzano-Reyes and Alodia Almira Arraiza Gosiengfiao; singers Julie Iris Fernandez-Lim and Marifil “Nina” Barinos Girado-Enriquez; singer and actress Roxanne Jordan Barcelo; and the actresses Maria Izadora “Iza” Ussher Calzado, Maxine Sofia Arroyo Magalona, Andrea Nicole “Andi” Guck Eigenmann, Karla Ysabel Marquez-Santos, Marissa Camurungan, Lani Mercado Revilla and Gabrielle Dela Merced.
However, there are also several significant women visual artists, who are alumna of the MC, but not as renown as those who have entered the entertainment industry. To address this issue, and give honor to all women in the field of visual art, the MC opened the Gallery of Women’s Art (GAWA), in 2001. The gallery’s acronym GAWA is also the Tagalog work “to make”, and it features the MC’s collection of paintings, sculptures, illustrations, and photographs by Filipina artists in its permanent collection. The GAWA also holds regular exhibitions, which is displayed at the ground floor lobby of the MMJ Hall.
The MC’s call for donations of women artists was met with such enthusiasm, that not all the works could be displayed in the allotted venue space. Hence, some pieces in the GAWA collection are on display at the MMJ Hall lobby walls. Among them is Araceli Limcaco Dans’ painting “Candle Light”, which shows her earlier style of neo-cubist style, before she developed her hyper-realist style of painting still life, with focus on traditional lace patterns. In this work, Limcaco-Dans shows three girls with a single candle. The candle with its cardboard guard is typical of how people carry candles during a night procession, such as the Santacruzan. The cubist style of Dans is reminiscent of the styles propagated by the first Filipino modernists, such as Vicente Manansala and Cesar Legaspi.
Araceli Limcaco–Dans (born 1929) first took he art class at the Sta. Rosa College, then continued at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) School of Fine Arts. After graduating, she started teaching at the Philippine Women’s University and the Art Department of the Ateneo Grade School. At the Ateneo, Limcaco-Dans also taught art on an Ateneo Educational Television program. Along with Brenda Fajardo (1940), she started the Philippine Art Educators’ Association (PAEA). With experience in art education, Limcaco-Dans was honored Cultural Center of the Philippines Centennial Awards, Citizen’s Award for Television, and the Mariang Maya Awards. A prolific painter, Limcaco-Dans is most known for her intricately rendered painting that feature calado, a lacy fabric; which is her own personal means of exhibiting a Filipino style of art.
Next piece is Phyllis Zaballero’s mural entitled “Sky over Boracay”, which is a quadtych seascape of the world famous beach and skyline of the resort island of Boracay, in the Visayas region. In this giant painting, Zaballero breaks off from her usual abstract expressionist painting, to give homage to the beauty of nature.
Phyllis Panganiban- del Rosario Zaballero (1942) first studied French language and literature from the Universite de Geneve in Switzerland and from the Universidad de Barcelona, then she graduated with a degree in economics in 1964, only to continue her education at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) College of Fine Arts in 1978. As an art educator and painter, Zaballero has exhibited locally and internationally, and has received numerous grants from prestigious institutions such as the Goethe Institute, the British Council, and the French Cultural Ministry. In 1979, Zaballero was given the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Thirteen Artists Award.
Ivi Avellana-Cosio has two works on display at the MMJ Hall lobby, the first is “Tagbanwa II” which is an abstracted work that show’s her fascination with nature and traditional patterns. The name “Tagbanwa” is based on the ethnic group from the island of Palawan, and whose name means “People of the Forest” (“Tag” means of the, and “Banua” means forest). Avellana-Cosio’s second work is a Tapestry that harks to the experimentation with tapestry art that she and fellow female artists: Pacita Abad, Imelda Cajipe-Endaya, and Paz Abad Santos, had done starting in the late 1970s and 1980s.
Ivi Avellana-Cosio (born 1942) is a painter, printmaker and photographer, whose pedigree is undeniable, being the daughter of the husband and wife National Artists for Film and Theater, Lamberto Vera Avellana (1915-1991) and Daisy Hontiveros-Avellana (1917-2013). Her exposure and participation in her parent’s work gave the young Avellana the courage to experiment in various art forms. Avellana’s first foray into the visual art started when her father introduced her into photography, this would inspire her to take up Advertising Art at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), and latter pursue painting at the Philippine Women’s University (PWU). While a student in UST, Avellana took printmaking under Cenon Mangahas Rivera (1922-1998), and would continue her studies in printmaking under the “Father of Philippine Printmaking” Manuel Antonio Rodriguez Sr. (1912-2017). Avellana would later marry fellow visual artist, Allan Cosio (born 1941), and would join the prestigious Saturday Group together. Throughout her career, Avellana-Cosio would exhibit locally and internationally, garnering honors in that time. Among these are the 1997 Philip Morris Philippine Art Awards, the 1999 Araw ng Maynila Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award for Painting, and the “Top 100 Professionals of 2012” by International Biographical Society in Cambrdige, England.
Susan Fetalvero-Roces’ mixed media “Wood Spirits” looks into the folk belief of nature spirits, called “elemento” (elementals) that inhabit all aspects of nature. This work features Fetalvero-Roces’ abstract expressionist style, with a bright color palette.
Susan Fetalvero-Roces is an abstract expressionist painter, who originally came from the town of Iligan, in Mindanao. Fetalvero-Roces usually paints on raffia, using the texture of the fabric as part of her paintings, giving a greater emotional context to her works. Fetalvero-Roceshas exhibited locally and abroad, often promoting art to women’s groups. Fetalvero-Roceswas active in the Visual Arts community, especially in the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), especially in the Committee on Visual Arts, acting as an Executive Committee member, and Exhibits and Travel Subcommittee member, and as the Coordinator for Mindanao for most of the 1990s.
Margarita Lim’s watercolor of “The Harvest” breaks away from her usual still life and kitchen scenes, where she renders a farmer from what seems another Southeast Asian country. The female subject is carrying what it seems to be freshly harvested wheat, which is not a staple of Philippine crops.
Margarita Lim is a watercolor painter, who often does still life and romanticized scenes of sunlit living rooms and kitchens. Lim never took any Fine Arts program, but only took painting lessons at a later age, to help her cope over the death of her husband. Lim took lessons under Boy Ventura, Rody Herrera, and Henry Braulio. Noticing her natural talent, her teachers encouraged Lim to exhibit and participate in painting competitions. Soon she was winning several awards, including several “Kulay sa Tubig” watercolor invitational competitions, where she would be places in its Hall of Fame, by 2014. Since then, Lim has been active in the Visual Art scene, including serving as a board member and secretary of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP).
Lastly, there is a portrait of Mother Mary Joseph, the founder of the Maryknoll Sisters, which is signed LVNA. This portrait is a profile of Sr. Mary Joseph in her younger years, probably taken from a photograph when she first came to the Philippines in 1926. I do assume that this painting was made by a Maryknoll sister, as they were known to have their talented sisters take Fine Arts classes, in the University of the Philippines (U.P.) and the University of Santo Tomas (UST). This encouragement of nurturing their natural talents is much in line with the philosophy of the GAWA, as it aims to inspire the students of Miriam College to pursue their dreams, including being an artist.