Born Name: Pacita Abad
Date of Birth: October 5, 1946
Place of Birth: Basco, Batanes, Philippines
Died: December 7, 2004 (aged 58), Singapore
Education: Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, University of the Philippines Diliman (BA, 1967)
Parents: Aurora Barsana Abad, Jorge Abad
Alma mater: University of the Philippines Diliman
Lone Mountain College (MA, 1972)
Known for: Painting
Pacita Abad (October 5, 1946 – December 7, 2004) was an Ivatan and Filipino visual artist. She was born in Basco, Batanes, a small island in the northernmost part of the Philippines, between Luzon and Taiwan. Her more than 30-year painting career began when she traveled to the United States to undertake graduate studies. She exhibited her work in over 200 museums, galleries, and other venues, including 75 solo shows, around the world. Abad's work is now in public, corporate, and private art collections in over 70 countries.
Abad earned a BA in political science at the University of the Philippines Diliman in 1967. In 1970, she went to the United States intending to study law, but she instead earned a degree (MA) in Asian History at Lone Mountain College (University of San Francisco) in 1972 where she supported herself as a seamstress and a typist. Abad studied painting at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. and The Art Students League in New York City. She lived on six different continents and worked in more than 50 countries, including Guatemala, Mexico, India, Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan, Mali, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, and Indonesia. At the Corcoran School of Art, Pacita studied under Berthold Schmutzhart and Blaine Larson in which the two professors had helped launch her artistic career. Pacita then further pursued her studies at The Art Students League in New York where she concentrated on still life and figurative drawing under John Helicker and Robert Beverly Hale.
Filipina: A racial identity crisis (1990). Acrylic, handwoven cloth, dyed yarn, beads, gold thread on stitched and padded canvas. The painting is considered as Abad's greatest work on canvas.
The Painted Bridge in Singapore is believed to be Abad's last creation before succumbing to cancer.
While Pacita was spending time in San Francisco's art scene, she married painter George Kleiman, though they later separated. She then decided to travel for art scenes across Asia for a year with Stanford MBA student Jack Garrity, then returned to the U.S. to study painting, first at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C. and later, at The Art Students League in New York City. While in California, she married Garrity, who became an international development economist.
Abad created over 4,500 artworks in her career. Her early paintings were primarily figurative socio-political works of people and primitive masks. Another series was large scale paintings of underwater scenes, tropical flowers, and animal wildlife. Pacita's most extensive body of work, however, is her vibrant, colorful abstract work - many very large scale canvases, but also a number of small collages - on a range of materials from canvas and paper to bark cloth, metal, ceramics, and glass. She painted the 55-meter long Alkaff Bridge in Singapore and covered it with 2,350 multicolored circles, just a few months before she died.
Abad developed a technique of trapunto painting (named after a quilting technique), which entailed stitching and stuffing her painted canvases to give them a three-dimensional, sculptural effect. She then began incorporating into the surface of her paintings materials such as traditional cloth, mirrors, beads, shells, plastic buttons, and other objects.
Awards and recognition
Pacita also received numerous awards during her artistic career in which her most memorable award was her first. Pacita received the TOYM Award for Art in the Philippines in 1984. Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) is an award that had always been given to men for the previous 25 years until 1984, when Pacita Abad became the first woman ever to receive this prestigious award. In Pacita receiving this award, a public uproar erupted in which angry letters were sent by male artists to editors of published newspapers who thought that Pacita should not have received the award. Despite such uproar, Pacita was thrilled that she had broken the sex barrier, as she stated in her acceptance speech that "it was long overdue that Filipina women were recognized, as the Philippines was full of outstanding women," and then proudly referred to her mother.
- "Parangal for Pacita Abad" - in memory of the late international artist, National Museum of the Philippines, January 2005
- "Art in Embassies - Indonesia", United States Department of State, September 2001
- "Pamana Ng Pilipino Award" for outstanding achievement in the arts, given by the President of the Philippines, Manila, June 2000
- "Plaque of Recognition to Pacita B. Abad, Ivatan Painter, Internationally Acclaimed Artist", from the Province of Batanes, 2000
- "Eighth Annual Mayor's Arts Awards", one of the finalists, Washington, DC, September 1998
- "Filipina Firsts", a compendium of 100 Filipino women who have broken ground in their fields of endeavor organized by the Philippine American Foundation in Manila and Washington, D.C., June 1998
- "Likha Award", marking the Centennial of Philippine Independence, given in recognition of outstanding achievement, June 1998
- "Art in Embassies - Philippines", United States Department of State, February 1996
- "Excellence 2000 Awards for the Arts", given by U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. (Website www.uspaacc.com), May 1995
- New York State Council on the Arts Grant for Visiting Artists Program at Amuan, 1993
- "Gwendolyn Caffritz Award", given by the Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts, June 1992
- "Mid-Atlantic Arts Regional Fellowship", USA, June 1992
- "D.C. Commission on the Arts Award", June 1990
- "MetroArt II Award: Six Masks from Six Continents", 5 painting mural installed at Metro Center, Washington, D.C., June 1990
- "National Endowment for the Arts", Visual Arts Fellowship, 1989 to 1990, June 1989
- "D.C. Commission on the Arts Award", June 1989
- "TOYM Award" for the Most Outstanding Young Artist in the Philippines, June 1984
Illness and Death
Abad died of lung cancer in 2004 in Singapore. She is buried in Batanes, Philippines, next to her studio which is called the Fundacion Pacita.
She established a unique trapunto technique in painting, and has influenced numerous art scholars throughout her lifetime. She is one of the few of her generation to have received numerous international awards in the field of painting. Many of her works have been acquired and prized by art museums in Tokyo, Paris, London, Singapore, San Francisco, New York City, Hong Kong, and Manila, among many others. Her art has been in the national collections of at least 70 countries worldwide.
The Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge in Basco, Batanes, "was lovingly refurbished" by her brother, Butch Abad.
Pacita Abad's works have been actively displayed in numerous galleries and museums in the Philippines throughout the annual Philippine Arts Month and art festivals.
The July 31. 2020 Google Doodle pays homage to Ms. Abad's legacy.
"I always see the world through color, although my vision, perspective and paintings are constantly influenced by new ideas and changing environments. I feel like I am an ambassador of colors, always projecting a positive mood that helps make the world smile." - Pacita Abad
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