VENAZIR Hannah Laxa Martinez, fondly called “Vena” has graduated from the University of the Philippines Baguio with the degree of Fine Arts for just almost a year and half now. Notwithstanding, I am truly in awe of her zealousness, brilliance and her love and passion for her art. Her objectivity and purpose indeed, brings her into greater heights. Her youth and vibrant outlook is contagiously viral!
Vena’s vision for a creative future sparked when she started practicing street art/ public art. From there, she saw an uphill trajectory as a labeled muralist/ street artist. She then continued on to the proliferation of “Hila-bana”, her street art advocacy. Hila-bana from the Tagalog term “hilbanahan” meaning, temporary stitching or basking. Rhetorically, it is bringing together the different Cordilleran ethnicities through the infamous red string - hinihilang habi or weave, as seen in her City murals for which it is collectively entitled, “A Street Art Hunt”.
Vena was always fond of integrating different discourses to visual arts from humanities to social sciences. She started creating pieces relating to anthropology back then in college. Vena is a part of a lineage of cultural advocates. Her great grandfather, Dr. Mario Zamora (Anthropologist, a Fulbright scholar in Cornell University), was the best of friends with William Henry Scott (a great Historian and Professor at the University of the Philippines) for whom she is a fan. This lineage of cultural advocates became her drive to pursue and institutionalize the culture of visual arts.
Vena says that cultural researches and immersions are a must when creating pieces. Hence, she incorporates every single one of them in her street story voyage.
“I think it is high time that our nation’s ‘Pop’ culture considers visually reformulating and exploring the progressive stories of our different indigenous identities since they deserve to be highlighted and not other external influences. I seek to promote our enriched multi-faceted roots in celebration of the rise of indigenous knowledge. The contrived perceptions about the formulation of one’s own unique ‘Filipino Identity’ and the encapsulation, the innovation, and the evolution of our indigenous knowledge altogether immortalize a new sense of value and purpose to our community in the modern times”.
Vena’s future plans after she finishes her Hila-bana project around the Cordillera is to explore her Kapampangan roots and involve this in her street advocacy as well. She plans to continue her studies and apply for scholarships abroad and to reformulate Hila-bana again and again. “I will be venturing the field of marrying business and art. Moreover, I will be exploring in uplifting the culture of the arts in the Philippines to further individualize our indigenous identities and institutionalize the very concept of being an artist in our country”.