Reconnecting Through Art: The Polymer Clay Creations of Jessie Cris Falalimpa

 

Reconnecting Through Art: The Polymer Clay Creations of Jessie Cris Falalimpa

Jessie Cris L. Falalimpa is dedicated to authentically represents the culture of SOCCSKSARGEN through his polymer clay dolls. He prioritizes the integrity of traditional designs over contemporary trends. He chooses to preserve the originality of indigenous art forms rather than altering them for artistic license.

"When presenting the culture of a specific tribe, it must be done with fidelity and respect. On a personal note, I refrain from altering indigenous designs, such as the Tnalak, to maintain their authenticity. This practice is a contentious issue among local designers in the region. I intend to honor the indigenous communities without offending," he says.

Falalimpa integrates community immersion into his creative process when crafting his polymer clay dolls. He emphasizes the importance of conducting thorough research and engaging with knowledgeable individuals as a preliminary step in his artistic endeavor.

Reconnecting Through Art: The Polymer Clay Creations of Jessie Cris Falalimpa


Polymer clay is a versatile and user-friendly art medium, ideal for both novices and professionals. Made from synthetic materials like PVC, it remains soft until baked in a standard oven. This clay can mimic various textures and is available in a wide array of colors, including special effects like metallic and glow-in-the-dark. It is a popular choice for creative projects.

Falalimpa's passion for anime sparked his journey into the art of sculpting. Driven by the high cost of action figures, he began creating his own in 2015, initially using air-dry clay. However, he soon transitioned to polymer clay for its durability and less stringent storage requirements.

After a two-year hiatus, Falalimpa resumed sculpting and unexpectedly encountered a Chinese artist through a social media platform. This interaction not only introduced him to the medium of polymer clay but also facilitated connections with manufacturers in China, broadening his artistic horizons.

At that time, there was only one seller of polymer clay in the Philippines, based in Manila. Falalimpa also sourced the material from New Zealand before deciding to import directly from China.

During a convention in China, he was struck by the sight of polymer clay dolls that celebrated the local indigenous culture. This experience inspired him to similarly honor the people of Mindanao. He envisioned using his craft to create a tangible tribute that would faithfully represent and celebrate his own region's rich heritage.

He describes himself as "self-taught" and a pioneer of polymer clay art in Region 12. Initially a hobby, he was later inspired to further develop his skills.

"There was no one to teach or guide me in polymer clay sculpting. I discovered it on my own. I studied various artistic disciplines, ranging from anatomy in comic books to painting, sculpting, and even woodworking," he says.

Falalimpa acknowledges the complexities of being a polymer clay sculptor, from the scarcity of resources on the craft to the intricacies of properly baking the clay. Despite these hurdles, his resolve to follow his artistic calling remains firm.

Falalimpa's unwavering commitment to his craft has earned him invitations to various regional exhibitions. Notably, his polymer clay dolls were featured at an anime convention in Koronadal City's local mall, which significantly raised his profile and brought his work to a wider audience.


Reconnecting Through Art: The Polymer Clay Creations of Jessie Cris Falalimpa


This exposure led to a meeting with Leonardo Rey "Bing" Cariño, who became instrumental in organizing Falalimpa's inaugural solo exhibition, "Binibining SOX: A Tribute to the Tri-Cultural Women of SOCCSKSARGEN." The exhibition, which ran from March 16 to April 2, 2024, was a part of "Emergence: Emerging Young Artists of SOX," an art exhibit curated by Cariño.

This innovative showcase transformed various spaces within SM GenSan into a vibrant display of the region's artistic talent, featuring eight up-and-coming artists. "Emergence" also served as the visual art segment of the Pasigarbo RMMC Festival of Arts, celebrating the growing art scene of SOCCSKSARGEN.

"Binibining SOX" was a vibrant exhibition that celebrated the diverse women from the cultural communities of Region 12, aligning with the spirit of Women's Month. Falalimpa, juggling his role at a local bank, dedicated early morning hours, starting at 3 AM, to meticulously craft his "Binibining SOX" series.

He reveals that the baking process is the most time-intensive aspect of his work. However, upon a colleague's advice, he adopted a multiple-baking technique, which significantly streamlined the production of his polymer clay dolls.

Falalimpa extends the reach of his art beyond public exhibitions by actively engaging with social media platforms. This strategic online presence has led to the discovery of his unique polymer clay dolls by a global audience.

The distinct cultural themes and the exclusivity of not being mass-produced resonate deeply with his clientele, which largely comprises cultural workers and overseas Filipinos seeking a connection to their heritage. These bespoke creations offer a touch of home and a celebration of identity for those far from the Philippines.


Reconnecting Through Art: The Polymer Clay Creations of Jessie Cris Falalimpa


"I never imagined that my creations would serve a cultural purpose. It seems to have happened organically. My aim was simply to promote the art of Mindanao through my dolls," he says.

Falalimpa is driven by a mission to showcase the diverse culture of Mindanao. Through his meticulously crafted polymer clay dolls, he aims to bring the stories of the Indigenous People and Moros to a broader audience, fostering interest and enhancing cultural understanding. His art serves as a bridge, connecting viewers to the vibrant heritage and traditions of Mindanao.

There was a time when he doubted his abilities as a polymer clay artist. However, an artist friend assured him that it was not a lack of talent but rather a need to refine his skills. Consequently, he invested in honing his abilities, eager to deepen his understanding of his craft.

As a polymer clay artist, he cherishes the support he receives from his family. Their shared artistic background allows them to understand and encourage his creative pursuits, providing a nurturing environment for his talent to flourish. This familial support is a cornerstone of his success and a source of gratitude in his artistic journey.

In the coming months, he will be presenting his work at national exhibitions, which will serve as a vibrant showcase of Mindanao’s rich culture. Through this platform, he aims to illuminate the region’s unique heritage, fostering greater awareness and dispelling prevalent misconceptions.

Falalimpa acknowledges the weight of responsibility that comes with elucidating his work to the public. He recognizes the importance of being culturally informed and sensitive, especially when his art delves into cultural themes. This conscientious approach ensures that his representations are both respectful and accurate.

“The public should become acquainted with Mindanao’s culture, the cultural heart of the Philippines,” he says.

 

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