Friday, August 27, 2010

Art, Music & School from Industrial Scraps

Jonahmar Salvosa's steel sculpture, Illac Diaz's bottled wall, and Lirio Salvador's sandata

Published in Manila Bulletin, Style Weekend, August 20, 2010

“The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.” – Ross Perot

MOST ARTISTS, WHO have used industrial scraps in their arts, create not only to liberate their artistic vision and commitment, but also to make a powerful statement in addressing the inordinate desire of our progressive society to build structures and accumulate more industrial products in our respective homes and working places.

Filipino artists, like Jonahmar Salvosa and Lirio Salvador, transform electronic and industrial scraps into an objet trouvé in their oeuvres. They fashion beauty out of scraps, so to say. In like manner, social entrepreneur Illac Diaz, in one of his social architecture projects, uses plastic bottles and organic materials to create schools for children and low-cost homes for the homeless.

These Filipino artists and social entrepreneur create beauty from abandoned materials and give hope from a hopeless condition. In their own humble manner, they build something from industrial scraps that will benefit our environment and society.

Jonahmar Salvosa: The Beauty of His Steel Scraps

An environmentalist and a Zen enthusiast, painter-sculptor Jonahmar Salvosa challenges the conventional norm of art making without being obtrusively messianic in his creations. He uses steel scraps, particularly the round steel bars, from their seemingly futile shapes and transforms them into a functional and decorative art pieces: from chairs to tables and from organic forms to human figures.

In the process, Salvosa produces grace and elegance from steel fragments, letting their forms and shapes come out with minimal human intervention. Consequently, the bends, curls, and tangles of round steel bars create seductive and harmonic noise, in figurative sense, which are not only pleasing to the viewer’s eyes but also beneficial to the environment.

As the artist says, “The process is liberating, satisfying my hunger to transform the abandoned state of metal into a functional and decorative objects, thus decreasing the industrial wastes in my community.”

Lirio Salvador: The Mesmeric Sound of His ‘Sandata’

Known for his "Sandata" musical instruments, like the bass and lead guitars, Lirio Salvador, the founder of ethno-industrial band called Elemento, redefines avant-garde music with eclectic sounds emanating from assembled electronic and metal scraps. As a sculptor and musician, he fashions ordinary and discarded materials into a sublime objet d'art, which is both functional and interactive.

Found objects such as stainless pipes, bicycle gears, electronic gadgets, transistor radio, mini-amps, and aluminum kitchenware, among other materials, are recycled and given with new meaning as assemblage of sculptural piece and, at the same time, interactive musical instrument. Stunningly, his homemade keyboard machine, aside from lead and bass guitars, is mimetic of industrial environment, transforming its discordant and abrasive noise into an orchestral sound of ambient and mesmeric harmony.

Lirio Salvador’s Elemento is not the typical group of musicians. Its members did not undergo the routine of rehearsal that most musical band does; some members are not permanent either or mainstay in the band. Whenever the leader, is present, the members converge and create ephemeral music that reflects their inner thoughts and feelings. The cohesive form and texture of Elemento’s music is born out of unrehearsed and spontaneous flow of sound coming from its respective instruments deconstructing the conventional structure of music composition.

From what used to be a meaningless metal scraps and discarded electronic gadgets, Lirio Salvador and his Elemento generate a poetic encounter in music that emits sounds of hope and harmony.

Illac Diaz: The Elegance of His Bottled School

Known as a social activist and entrepreneur and founder of My Shelter Foundation in 2005, Illac Diaz’s passion to create for the economically-challenged communities, particularly the schools for children in remote areas in the country, seems inexhaustible.

After his successful projects in Surigao Del Norte by creating Earthen Schools and his recent “Bottle School Run” last June 13, 2010, he embark on rebuilding the damaged schools in Maharlika Village, Taguig City, which are literally made of soda bottles mixed with some organic materials.

From empty plastic bottles rose an eco-friendly and architecturally revolutionary classrooms. The patternic design and texture of soda bottles that are integrated on the walls create an avant-garde look – a public art installation of sort. Whether the pattern is consciously or unconsciously infused in the blueprint, the architectural edifice has already achieved both its aesthetic appeal and functionality as classroom for children.

The genesis of his advocacy and social commitment started from his first project the Pier One, an organization that caters affordable transient house for seamen who are either looking for opportunities to work abroad or waiting for another overseas voyage. It was followed by the Peanut Revolution, building pedal-powered machines for women in shelling off the raw peanuts. Then the First Step Coral, creating an artificial coral reef system in shallow waters.

TO SUM, EVERY individual, as co-steward of this planet, has a social and environmental responsibility to recycle or transform industrial scraps in a manner in which they can function again in our respective homes and communities.

For every scrap, metal or plastic bottle, is comparable to a wild plant that grows in our backyard, waiting to be transformed and nurtured by our creative hands until it becomes useful again, with value and meaning, in our day to day existence.


Illac Diaz, Lirio Salvador, and Jonahmar Salvosa (photos by Danny Sillada)

© Danny Castillones Sillada

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