Imaginarium Unveiled: The Emergence of Janine Mae Magbanua


Imaginarium Unveiled: The Emergence of Janine Mae Magbanua

Janine Mae Magbanua, an emerging visual artist, explores her artistic identity through her creations. She understands the significance of self-awareness in navigating the intricate labyrinth of the art world.

During her elementary school years, Magbanua had the chance to immerse herself in visual art. In fifth grade, she joined the Patik-Kulay Art Workshop, led by Renante Dublois, who remains her mentor to this day.

"I persuaded my parents to let me participate in this workshop. I was fascinated by the art materials. The experience is unique when you've attended an art workshop," shares Janine.

Magbanua always cherishes the wisdom imparted by her mentor, emphasizing the cultivation of humility within herself. Her mentor also advocated for the importance of investing in education.

She participated in various art contests and served as an assistant to her mentor during art workshops at several schools in GenSan. These experiences reinforced her desire to pursue visual art. Consequently, among her peers in the Pati-Kulay workshop, she remains steadfast and passionate in her artistic endeavors.

Imaginarium Unveiled: The Emergence of Janine Mae Magbanua

During her high school years, she was fortunate to have encouraging teachers as part of the Special Program for the Arts at General Santos City High School. Later, she attended Mindanao State University (MSU) in GenSan, where she initially pursued a course in Engineering Technology before transitioning to complete a Bachelor of Education major in Elementary-General Education.

At MSU, she gained greater exposure to the region's culture and arts, further enriching her experience by joining Pinta Okir Visual Arts Guild. Subsequently, she obtained a Bachelor's degree in Multimedia Arts from STI College, thereby solidifying her status as a multimedia artist.

"I'm just ambitious," she candidly says.

Magbanua experienced frustration due to the perception of artists as a "second-class profession", with society often placing higher esteem on professions such as engineering, medicine, or law.

She also encountered prejudice due to her "artist look", particularly when she was covered in paint while working on a commissioned mural project. Despite these experiences, she underscores the importance of equal treatment, irrespective of one's profession or social status.

Like many artists, Magbanua has faced rejection from galleries and other public exhibition venues. However, she perseveres and comprehends the curation process of these institutions.

“Some visual artists struggle to understand this type of rejection. They perceive it as a 'palakasanay system'. As an artist, it's crucial to possess art education and an understanding of art exhibitions," she articulates.

Imaginarium Unveiled: The Emergence of Janine Mae Magbanua

Transitioning to Surrealism pop

From her early years to the present, Magbanua has experimented with a variety of mediums - transitioning from charcoal to graphite, and even exploring mixed media. She embarked on a journey of creating art in various forms, including T-shirt printing, designing streamers and banners, and even crafting calligraphy for diplomas.

“My progress takes time. It takes 20 years to achieve it,” she says.

Magbanua's artistic process is a unique blend of storytelling and visual expression. She begins by crafting a narrative, which serves as a guiding map, breathing life into her paintings.

With her inaugural solo exhibition at SM City General Santos, aptly titled Imaginarium, she unveiled her novel style, which she characterizes as "surrealism pop". This unique approach draws inspiration from Studio Ghibli anime and children's literature.

"Imaginarium” was part of “Emergence: Emerging Young Artists of SOX,” curated by Leonardo Rey “Bing” Cariño. It is an innovative art exhibit that creatively repurposes various spaces within SM GenSan to showcase the eight emerging young artists of the region.

“Emergence” is the visual art component of the Pasigarbo RMMC Festival of Arts that presents emerging artists from the SOCCSKSARGEN region. The "Imaginarium" exhibit ran from May 4 to 17, 2024.

Magbanua's artistic journey has been significantly shaped by her participation in various art contests and public exhibitions across the country. These experiences have catalyzed her evolution as an artist. However, she acknowledges that the path of a visual artist is fraught with challenges. A mentor once imparted to her a valuable lesson: an artist who prioritizes money above all else is unlikely to flourish.

She has noticed that the majority of significant art events are concentrated in the National Capital Region. In contrast, Mindanao, despite its rich cultural heritage, appears to be somewhat overlooked. There is a pressing need to invigorate the artistic movement in Mindanao, thereby dispelling any misconceptions about the region and highlighting its unique artistic contributions.

Imaginarium Unveiled: The Emergence of Janine Mae Magbanua

In her quest to discover her artistic voice, Magbanua embarked on a transformative journey with Lawig-Diwa’s Daro Art Immersion Program. This unique initiative immerses emerging artists in local livelihood communities, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of their lifestyles. This firsthand experience significantly influences and enriches the artists' creative process.

Backed by Metrobank Art and Design Excellence, Metrobank Foundation, Inc., and Hectars of Hope, the program culminates in an exhibition that proudly displays the art born from this immersive experience.

“The immersion program was a mirror to my soul. It was only after this enriching experience that I could truly see myself as an artist. Before, I struggled with the daunting blank canvas, but now, I embrace it with confidence and creativity,” Magbanua shares.

Imaginarium Unveiled: The Emergence of Janine Mae Magbanua

Paying it forward

Magbanua is driven by a profound desire to make a significant difference in her region. Her commitment is reflected in her frequent collaborations, volunteer initiatives, and the provision of complimentary art workshops and mentorship programs for the youth.

“It’s important that you share what you’ve learned to others. It is also vital to keep practicing what you love doing,” she says.

Beyond her role as a visual artist, Magbanua also excels as an educator at STI College GenSan, where she imparts her knowledge of multimedia arts. This dual role enhances her ability to mentor the youth, enriching their understanding of the arts. When elucidating her artworks to the public and her students, Magbanua adopts an educational approach, making art more accessible and relatable.

Magbanua fosters a mutually beneficial relationship with her art patrons, cultivating a 'win-win' approach. She cherishes these relationships, recognizing that her patrons could potentially support her art-related initiatives for the communities she passionately serves.

Imaginarium Unveiled: The Emergence of Janine Mae Magbanua

Her expertise in event organization has been meticulously crafted through her active participation in numerous art-centric events. Notable among these are the 2017 BIMP-EAGA Budayaw International Arts Festival in GenSan, her dynamic involvement with Mugna Heneral, and her enriching experiences at the Kalimudan Culture and Arts Center, Inc., as well as the Mindanao Art Fair. These experiences have not only honed her skills but also deepened her understanding of the vibrant art scene.

"This kind of exposure helps me gain confidence and build a network. We take pride in our efforts when we know that there is a purpose behind all our hard work," she says.

Through her dedicated art initiatives and contributions, she has garnered accolades from a diverse array of institutions and awarding entities. Her achievements include being honored with the Gawad Bagong Sining award from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) National Committee on Visual Arts in 2022; receiving the Sanguniang Kabataan Youth Award in the professional category for Barangay Calumpang, General Santos City in 2022; and being recognized as an outstanding cultural worker by the UNESCO Clubs of the Philippines in 2021. These distinctions underscore her significant impact on the arts and culture sector.

Overflowing with gratitude, Magbanua acknowledges the invaluable guidance of her mentors in shaping her artistic journey. She underscores the significance of nurturing the arts community, championing the spirit of collaboration, and fostering mutual growth. She attributes her opportunities and successes to divine providence. Magbanua also expresses gratitude for the unwavering support her family has provided throughout her journey as a visual artist.

Her interpersonal skills have greatly contributed to her esteemed reputation within the arts community. Despite encountering challenges, she chooses not to fixate on them or vent her frustrations on social media. Instead, she dedicates her energy to devising solutions and maintaining a positive outlook, which further solidifies her standing as a proactive and resilient figure in the arts.

Imaginarium Unveiled: The Emergence of Janine Mae Magbanua

Magbanua underscores the critical role of dedicated spaces where artists can exhibit their creations to the public. Such spaces are essential for fostering an appreciation for art and ensuring a robust support network within the community. She highlights Tam-awan Village in Baguio City as a prime example, where the fusion of indigenous design and the exceptional craftsmanship of the Cordillera region is seamlessly integrated with an artistic vision tailored to the Baguio environment.

She envisions a future where Mindanao emerges as a vibrant center for artists, leveraging its rich artistic offerings, growing talent, and an increasing calendar of art-centric events. She aspires to see Mindanao host more national and international exhibitions, expanding its global artistic footprint. Furthermore, she harbors the aspiration that every community will establish a sanctuary for the arts and its practitioners, nurturing creativity and cultural expression across all societies.

"Let's champion our local artists. Art holds an indispensable place in our lives—it's not merely an afterthought," she asserts.