ARTISTS all have their unique preferences when it comes to their media or the materials used to create art.
For this group of Lumad artists from Bukidnon, the preferred medium is something close to their hearts.
“Soil painting,” they call it, and the use of bare earth best illustrates the themes of their art -- the preservation of their culture, promotion of peace, and environmental protection.
They are called soil painters because they capitalized on soil as the main component of their art pieces.
Thirty-four of their creations are currently displayed at the Museum of Three Cultures at the Capitol University.
Dubbed “Mensahe Gikan sa Bugta: Kinaiyahan, Kultura, ug Kalinaw, the Cagayan de Oro City leg of the exhibit, part of a country-wide tour to showcase their art, will run until June 30.
All of the art pieces are for sale with an art piece costing between P5,000 to P25,000. As of Friday, June 2, ten of the items have been sold.
Raul Bendit, a member of the Talaandig tribe in Bukidnon, said soil has been ignored as one of the elements of the earth that is why they wanted to rouse the people and underline the significance of arts to societal issues.
“Importante ang yuta nga para sa uban tumban lang busa gusto nato ipakita nga pwede kini mahimong art kay usa kini ka paghulagway sa beauty sa atong kalibutan ug kalinaw. kay dili man ta kahimo og arts kung dili peaceful ang atong huna-huna (The soil is important. Others may just think of it as something to step on but we chose this to highlight the beauty of the Earth and of peace which we need to be able to create art),” Bendit said.
Bendit said the soil is also an all-natural medium which do not contain chemicals even when collected from different places.
Bendit started to hone his craft in the 90's and since then he has been inspiring more soil artists to discover and polish their natural talents and skills in soil painting.
He said his group now has survived for the last two years even without stable support from the government or from private organizations.
One of the members, Chong Tecson, said soil painting has become his avenue to remind people to be socially aware. His subjects are primarily about social and environmental issues.
“Ingon nila atong gipatay ang kinaiyahan pero sa tinuod para nako dili kini mamatay kundili ang atong kaugalingon ang atong gipatay tungod sa atong pagpasagad nga gasumbalik sa ato (They said we are symbolically killing the environment with the use of soil but for me the issue is us killing ourselves through our indifference),”he said.
Group member Joey Hilario, a 15-year-old soil artist, made his debut in the exhibit. He painted an eagle as his subject because he said eagles in his place are fleeing because of the deterioration of their habitat.
“Bag-o lang gyud ko nagsugod ug eagle akong first subject kay nakita nako gakahurot na ang mga eagles sa amo kay nilayas kay giputol ang mga kahoy or gina-hunting (I just started soil painting and I chose the eagle as my subject because where I come from, eagles are disappearing because of habitat destruction),”he said.
And for Juan Cabaluna, soil painting is his way to shun vices and other wrongdoings, adding this is what he wants to tell his fellow youth.
Bendit said they may come from different backgrounds but their crafts have brought them together to inspire more people not only in Mindanao but even across the country.
He also stressed that soil painting is not that compensating as they can only earn enough to feed their families and support each member of the group. This is why he is calling both government institutions and private entities for support.
“Nanawagan ta nga unta masuportahan ug tabangan ang mga local artists nga nagpakita sa ilang expression kalabot sa mga issues sama sa kalinaw, kinaiyahan ug kultura (We are hoping that through the exhibit, the artists will get support to continue creating art with cultural and environmental themes other people will support the artists in the,” Bendit said.