REFUGEES OF CAMBODIA
Paintings by by Pacita Pacita Abad Abad Paintings
Angkor Wat, 1998 (102 x 122 in) Oil, rhinestones, beads, mirrors, batik cloth, buttons, sequins stitched on canvas
Cover: Alone (detail), 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
Artist Statement Introduction Portraits of Cambodia Artist Profile
ARTIST STATEMENT I went to Thailand with the intention of painting the country's exotic scenery and for the first few months I portrayed the colorful temples and daily life of rural Thai villagers. However, it is difficult for an artist to isolate herself from events that are happening all around. When the Cambodian refugees began fleeing from the Vietnamese invaders and Pol Potâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s brutality, and started streaming for shelter in Thailand, I became involved. I have always believed that an artist has a special obligation to remind society of its social responsibility. "Portraits of Cambodia" is my most important series as it depicts the faces and feelings of the displaced Cambodians I encountered during my several trips to the refugee holding centers. I learned so much on my trips to the camps and there was so much I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know. What I expected was misery but there was so much more beyond that. There was the state of shock and relief when the refugees finally made it across the border, and after that an almost normal way of daily life with thousand of people patiently lining up for rice, mothers cooking, kids playing and the men just standing around and waiting for something to do. My visits were reinforced by numerous meetings with journalists, relief workers, medical teams and most importantly the stories of other refugees. These provided me with a deeper understanding of the devastating Cambodian tragedy, and as a result my portraits tell the story of tragedy, adversity, bitterness, boredom, hope, and not too often, happiness. After the media coverage ends I want my paintings to keep staring at you. Pacita Abad
INTRODUCTION In early 1979, Philippine-American painter Pacita Abad moved to Bangkok with her husband Jack, an international economist. Their move followed work stays in South Sudan, Sudan and Bangladesh, where she created social realistic paintings of people living in rural villages and urban areas. Almost all of these works were done out in the field far away from her studio. Pacita began painting the colorful market scenes and elaborate Buddhist temples and shrines, but after working in exotic places like Wau, Juba, Omdurman, Dhaka and Chittagong, Bangkok seemed almost too civilized. This changed suddenly when the Vietnamese army invaded neighboring Cambodia (at that time called Kampuchea). They quickly routed the ruthless Khmer Rouge leader PolPot and sent his troops retreating to jungle outposts on the Thai border. *) Along with the fleeing army, more than three hundred thousand malnourished Cambodians, who had suffered greatly for the past four years under the Khmer Rouge regime. They had to walk for hundreds of miles to escape war, violence and famine in order to find shelter and security across the Thai border. This created one of the world's largest humanitarian emergency crisis and forced the Thai government, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), foreign embassies and numerous international aid organizations to scramble and quickly mobilize shelter, water and food in order to avert a major disaster. Pacita had a number of journalist and aid worker friends who informed her about the massive crisis at the border, and she decided to go to the camps to witness the situation. She was shocked to see the number of refugees and
the chaotic conditions in the camps, and her talks with some of the refugees, medical volunteers and aid workers only intensified her feelings. On the two and a half hour ride back to Bangkok, Pacita decided that she could not isolate herself from this situation and would document the plight of the Cambodian refugees with her paint brush. During the rest of her time in Thailand Pacita immersed herself in the refugee problems by reading daily reports, talking to journalists and making numerous trips to various camps along the border. In the camps she would talk to some of the refugees and hear their incredible tales of suffering and survival. She would then sketch and photograph the people she had talked to, and always had sweets to give to the children. Later, back in her Bangkok studio she would put her portraits on 35 x 50 inches canvas, thinking of the stories the refugees had told her. Pacita said that her Cambodian Refugee series was the most important of all her socio-political work. She consciously wanted to let people see what the refugees looked like, experienced, and hoped for, in order to remind the outside world that they were people not very different from everyone else - just struggling to survive and live. Before Pacita left Thailand she exhibited her paintings in Bangkok at the Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art. Many Thai and international aid workers came the opening and were stunned when they saw her paintings. The exhibit was opened by Rudolph von Bernuth, Director of CARE, who had brought her to the camps and shared his stories and photos for her series. He stated, “I have to deal with the refugees in terms of large numbers, thousands of gallons of water, tons of food, kilograms of seed, etc. I rarely deal with the refugees individually. To me one of the most important aspects of Pacita’s paintings is that she presents the human side of the refugees, she presents them as people." Unlike most shocking photos of humanitarian disasters, Pacita’s paintings emphasize the people behind the faces, and show the multidimensional facets of the refugee’s daily existence by mixing portraits of war-torn
suffering with playful children, and the endless boredom that all refugees face. She placed 3 x 5 inch cards next to each painting, giving information about a specific issue or particular person portrayed.
In these canvases Pacita's vivid colors fused with her human emotions and convictions to present a powerful commentary on the plight of the Cambodian refugees. She strongly believed that art has the power to raise societyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s consciousness of its moral responsibility. Most importantly, once the global news inevitably moved on to the next major event, she hoped that her paintings would remain to document and remind the world of the horrible Cambodian tragedy. Pacita sometimes went to Don Muang Airport at night, when the first groups of Cambodian refugees were being flown to the United States. There squatting on the floor were lines of refugees with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, holding a small bundle of posessions, and clutching a
plastic case hung around their necks with their personal documents. They were quiet, relieved and apprehensive about their uncertain new life in America. What disheartened her most was seeing the printed signs on the plastic indicating their destinations throughout the 50 states – Miami, Topeka, Minneapolis, Long Beach, Richmond, Fort Worth, Dayton, Atlanta, Lowell, Los Angeles, etc. Pacita said, ”I really felt sad when I saw these people being separated, and who cares whether it is America or not.” On her return to the United States, Pacita stayed in contact with the Cambodian refugees in communities around Boston, particularly Dorchester and Lowell, and tried to assist them with a variety of household matters. She was not surprised to see how difficult it was for many of the unskilled Cambodians to adjust to their new life in America. The more enterprising shared living accommodations and often worked two low level jobs to provide for their extended families. The small number of educated refugees adjusted much better, and were able to encourage their children to finish school. What the Cambodians missed most was the sense of community, and before long they tried to move to other cities to be with their former countrymen. Pacita exhibited her Cambodian refugee series twice more, once in Boston at the Boston University Art Gallery in February 1981, and in Manchester, New Hampshire at the Manchester Institute of Arts and Science in June 1981. The Boston exhibit was opened by Y Li, a former journalist who had escaped the Khmer Rouge. Later Pacita was introduced to Sichan Siv, who told his harrowing story about escaping from the Khmer Rouge’s killing fields and making his way to Thailand, and finally to America. Years later they met again when he was working at the White House in Washington, DC, and she painted her last Cambodian refugee portrait, “Sichan between two worlds: From Angkor Wat to the White House”. *) See https://www.ushmm.org/confrontgenocide/cases/cambodia/introduction/cambodia-1975 for details on Cambodia 1975-1979
Sichan between two worlds: From Angkor Wat to the White House, 1994 (93 x 58 in), Oil, buttons, beads on stitched and padded canvas
PORTRAITS OF CAMBODIA Raw, direct emotion emanates from the Cambodian refugee scenes witnessed and painted by Pacita Abad. The groups of men, women and children shown in the Thai camps are not represented in an easy, sentimentalized plea for pity, and neither are they portrayed in a deliberately garish way emphasizing the horror and gore of their plight. Rather, the artist manages to show us life in the camps as we would see it — full of both tenderness and brutality, misery and moments of happiness. Small, undramatic occurrences, like mothers waiting in line with their babies at the clinic, take on a powerful monumentality when transformed by Pacita's strong compositions and thin washes of color which focus attention on the piercing white eyes. Figures may be cut off, as in “Watching and Waiting”, where small hands grasp the barbed wire in familiar, restless gestures that tell the whole story. A mother's hand, guiding her emaciated child's head to a drink of water in “Water of Life”, cuts off the view of another child's round head, leaving only one distant, unfocused eye showing. Yet that eye conveys a world of feeling. The large canvases are not beautiful in the traditional sense of sensual paint quality and aesthetically arranged color. The artist's "primitive" style frees her to enlarge and thus emphasize the particularly expressive elements of eyes, head, or hands. She leaves a sketchy, wash-like surface, emphasizing the immediacy and the awkwardness of daily events happening before our eyes. Thus, she denies us refuge in admiring her work for its formal qualities, but rather insists we consider the pictures as moments of life real people, physically and psychologically trapped in an all-too-real situation. Since
the 1930's, few artists have demanded this of us. "Social criticism" has not been popular, at least in such a direct and forceful way. Pacita's upbringing in the Philippines, as a child of a congresswoman and a Minister of Public Works and Communications, led her to study law as a potential career before turning to painting. She has lived all over the world, painting people in Bangladesh, Africa, and Turkey as well as Thailand. Her experiences have strengthened her belief in painting as a means of social comment as well as an aesthetic vehicle. The short "stories" she writes to accompany the pictures are expressive vignettes that underscore our awareness of the reality of these scenes. The directness of the figures emerging from their stark backgrounds, as in â&#x20AC;&#x153;Flight to Freedomâ&#x20AC;?, forces us to confront not only these uprooted, abused men, women, and children, but ourselves. Pacita consistently shows us moments of human truth to which we all relate. We are forced to find ourselves in common, at some level, with these strangers who even now sit in their camps, and must ask ourselves, what can we do to help? First we must thank Pacita Abad for reminding us, so sympathetically and powerfully, of their plight. Amy Lighthill, Gallery Manager, Boston University Art Gallery
In Thailand, Pacita intended to paint exotic scenery, but a visit to the refugee camps convinced her otherwise. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I spoke my little bit of French to them, and I listened to their stories.â&#x20AC;?
The Boston Globe, February 1981
Flight to freedom, 1980 (84 x 180 in) Acrylic, oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;This woman and her two children, like hundreds of thousands of other Khmers, have trekked for months to reach Thailand. They flee persecution, starvation and often death, bringing what possessions they could carry as they walked through the plains, jungles and mountains to safety.â&#x20AC;?
The long walk, 1978 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;The war has deprived him of one leg, but this does not stop him from helping his blind friend. Limping on his crutches, he guided his friend across the border into Thailand to escape the fighting on the other side.â&#x20AC;?
A little help from my friend, 1979 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Most people had to walk for days to reach the border, but a few had ox carts which they dragged with them only to realize they had to abandon them in the camp.â&#x20AC;?
A boy and his cart, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;This Cambodian woman with her son are two of the fortunate people who have made it to Thailand. They were exhausted, dressed in ragged clothing and hungry. Upon their arrival at the camp they rested before worrying about providing themselves with temporary shelter.â&#x20AC;?
Waiting, 1979 (35 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;While most Khmers who arrive in Thailand are sick and destitute a few are more fortunate. Some carry pots and pans, others bring their family possessions, the more fortunate have gold. This girlâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s prized possesion is a rooster.â&#x20AC;?
Bring what you can, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;The refugees are constantly on the alert for soldiers and bandits along the way. It was difficult as there are a number of different armed groups roaming western Cambodia - the Khmer Rouge, the Khmer Serei, the Vietnamese and bandits.â&#x20AC;?
Khmer soldier, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;This family is one of the most fortunate, as even though they lost all of their possessions, husband, wife and their two children all made it to the camp together. They are one of the few families that did.â&#x20AC;?
Together, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;One of the cruelest ironies in the plight of the refugees, is that even though they reached a refugee camp they were not safe. The fighting and constant sound of gunfire near almost every camp was a constant warning that the senseless savagery lingered. Mortars, guns and blood, the refugees who have been through so much in the past still suffered.â&#x20AC;?
Widower, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;After crossing the border and arriving at the camp, the refugees then have to wait helplessly for the future. Although most of their medical and food requirements are taken care of, many others are not. There is nothing for them to do as they just watch and wait, maybe thinking of future destinations - Paris, New York, Phnom Penh, or fearing they will have to remain in the camp forever.â&#x20AC;?
Watching and waiting, 1979 (35 x 50 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;The camp is surrounded with barbed wire and the perimeter is patrolled by soldiers to prevent anyone from escaping. There are a few trees, which are quickly becoming firewood, and the rest of the area is barren except for the hastily erected shelters. This is Sa Kaeo, the 40-acre temporary home for almost 30,000 Khmer refugees.â&#x20AC;?
Sa Kaeo, 1980 (35 x 50 in) Oil on canvas s
â&#x20AC;&#x153;One thing you quickly observe at the refugee camps are the number of young children and a somewhat surprisingly a large group of pregnant women. Refugee officials have tried to introduce compulsory family planning measures, but this campaign has faced substantial opposition. Some people believed that because of the recent fighting that the Khmer race should be repopulated, others believe the injectable contraceptive may cause cancer. Regardless, the contraceptive are popular among the women.â&#x20AC;?
Nursing mothers, 1980 (35 x 50 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was watching the cooks prepare the "lunch of the day" in one of the cafeterias, when this woman with her sick and weak child approached me. The look on her face suggested that the child was in trouble and she thought that I could help. The mother complained that she did not have enough milk to feed her baby. There was nothing I could do.â&#x20AC;?
Feeding time, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Since many more of the men were killed by the Khmer Rouge, it was the women who play the important role of protecting the children and keping them alive.â&#x20AC;?
Mother and child, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was outside one of the canteens when this boy started dancing while his friends clapped their hands. He twirled, moved his belly and danced around and around until he saw me watching. Feeling embarrassed, he ran towards his sister and covered his face. I had the greatest time watching him.â&#x20AC;?
The little boy who danced, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was in one of the hospitals in the camps when I heard this cry from this little girl. She was trying to get the attention of the French doctor and questioning: "I thought you were a doctor, what's the matter, can you not help my mother?" But the doctor just nodded his head as the mother had already passed away.â&#x20AC;?
What’s the matter, can’t you help my mother? 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Despite the enthusiastic support of international workers, most of the volunteers at the camps are refugees. In fact in many cases they almost run the camps by themselves. The refugees tend to the basic problems of sweeping, distributing food, cooking and even overseeing some of the administrative tasks.â&#x20AC;?
Friends, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil pastel on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Rice soup with pork blood and liver for lunch. Thanks to CARE. But, what is for dinner ? The starving refugees become easy prey to typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis malaria, and the absence of vitamins also brings deficiency diseases. Sometimes, the hungry simply lose the will to live. Even if they survived, most children under two will be permanently scarred by the prolonged starvation.â&#x20AC;?
Daily ration, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
“I was watching this kid prepare his “lunch of the day" in one of the camps. Then he started telling me his story. His mother and father, who were both doctors and owned a hospital in Phnom Penh, were killed by the Khmer Rouge and so were his two sisters. He has been in the camp for more than six months and there is nothing for him to do but to wait and hope, maybe thinking of future destinations. I asked him what he would like to do when he gets out of the camp. He said he would like to go to Harvard.”
Alone, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;When the Vietnamese shelling begins, most of the Khmers hide in their bunkers for cover. This woman, was too weak to move and just laid inside her hut - almost dead, her face was white. The daughters sat in a daze next to her.â&#x20AC;?
Little hope, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;As the UNHCR water trucks approach the camp, the children rush to fill their plastic pails with water. I was particularly touched, when at one corner, I saw this woman giving her youngest son a drink from a bowl of water, while her other two sons anxiously waited their turns.â&#x20AC;?
Water of life, 1980 (35 x 50 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Visiting the camps it is amazing to see the children and how many have recovered so quickly from malnutrition and disease. When you visit the camps now they follow you around shouting and yelling, trying to attract attention. The older ones carry infants, who sleep, the younger ones run around and play or sometimes bashfully turn away. â&#x20AC;&#x153;
Kampuchean children, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;They are classified by relief officials as "Unaccompanied Minors", but they are better known as orphans. In every camp you see swarms of these little kids, the older ones watching out for the youngest. They are tough and resilient, but many are mentally scarred by their brutal experiences. It is going to require much more than food to make these children happy, they need lots of love.â&#x20AC;?
Two orphans, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;These children, in spite of malnutrition and other diseases, seemed happy. The smiles on their faces suggested that even if their troubles are not over, they knew they had at least escaped the fighting that has caused this tragic exodus. The games and laughter of children outside their thatched huts almost shut out the sounds of shellings not so far away. â&#x20AC;&#x153;
Happy days, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Life has no more surprises for this woman, after what she has gone through in the past five years she cannot respond anymore. Her husband and four of her six children were killed by the Khmer Rouge, she herself was beaten and tortured almost until death. After that she was forced to work from dawn until dusk for a few spoonfuls of rice a day. She managed to flee with her two remaining children but they died in the jungle along the way. Undaunted, she pushed on and managed to cross into Thailand, only to be pushed back against her will, along with many other refugees, back into Cambodia by Thai soldiers. Relentlessly, she tried again and this time she succeeded to get to the camp. She says softly but resolutely, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I will not go back to Kampuchea ever again, even if the Thais would kill me."
Woman of the world, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
â&#x20AC;&#x153;The years of fighting have taken their toll on everyone, even the soldiers fighting to free the country from the khmer rouge. This soldier has no idea where his family is, or whether they are even alive.â&#x20AC;?
Rebel soldier, 1980 (50 x 35 in) Oil on canvas
“The fighting and brutalization of Cambodia has been going on since 1970, and there is no end in sight – there always seems to be another military group that wants to continue to fight.”
When will this end? 1980 (35 x 50 in) Oil on canvas
ARTIST PROFILE The internationally known Philippine-American painter Pacita Abad (19462004) was born on Batanes, a small island in the South China Sea. Her 32-year painting career began when she had to leave the Philippines in 1969 due to her student political activism against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, and traveled to the United States to study law. However, a few years after receiving a Master of Arts degree in Asian History from the University of San Francisco she switched careers to dedicate her life to art. She then studied painting at the Corcoran School of Art, Washington, DC and The Art Students League in New York City. Since that time Pacita never stopped being a gypsy artist and painted the globe while working on six different continents and traveling to more than 50 countries. During her career Pacita created over 5,000 artworks and her paintings were exhibited in more than 200 museums and galleries around the world. Pacitaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s travels significantly impacted her life and artistic style and were the inspiration for many of the ideas, techniques and materials that she incorporated in her paintings. Her journeys were also a tremendous crosscultural learning experience that made her acutely aware of the difficult lives that most women lead around the globe. They also heightened her sensitivity to the severe political, social, economic and environmental challenges she encountered across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Not surprisingly, as a socially concerned artist Pacitaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s early socio-political paintings were of urban poor, displaced people, political violence, refugees
and immigrants in countries where she worked such as Bangladesh, Sudan, Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and the US. After her early social realism paintings, Pacita rejected the painterly emphasis on surface flatness, and sought ways to expand her painted canvases and make her work more sculptural. With the help of her sewing skills Pacita developed a unique, innovative painting style which she called trapunto painting, that fused her painted surfaces collaged with hand-stitched traditional materials, buttons, sequins, shells, mirrors and other found objects to blend with her signature strong colors. Her first series using this technique she called "Masks and Spiritsâ&#x20AC;? drawing on her travel experiences. Pacita created over 50 large, vibrantly colored, hand stitched and embellished trapunto paintings depicting masks and spirits from New Guinea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Africa and the Americas. Her next artistic plunge was literally underwater, as Pacita created very large and colorful trapunto painting series based on her deep-sea scuba diving experiences throughout the Philippines. Inspired by natureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s beauty she simultaneously worked on a extensive series of flora and fauna paintings from the Australian Outback and Asiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tropical gardens. Throughout her career her work was characterized by color, constant change and experimentation. Her most comprehensive and extensive body of work, which she focused on during the second half of her career are vibrantly colorful abstract, mixed-media painted textile collages and assemblages inspired by her stays in Indonesia, Singapore, India and Yemen. Many are very large canvases, but also a number of small collages on a range of surfaces, as she continuously explored new mediums, techniques and materials including prints, paper, bark cloth, glass ceramic, steel and other mediums. Pacita also created a number of noteworthy public art installations such as her six-piece Masks from Six Continents in the main Washington, DC Metro Station; batik canvas collage titled Celebration and Joy installed at the Singapore Expo; large hand-stitched Zamboanga wedding tent adorned with native textiles called 100 Years Of Freedom: from Batanes to Jolo to celebrate
the Philippine Centennial; and just before she died the 55-meter long Singapore Art Bridge which she covered with over 2,000 colorful circles while undergoing treatment for cancer. Pacita's paintings were featured in solo exhibitions at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; Hong Kong Arts Center, Hong Kong; Museum of Philippine Art and the Metropolitan Museum in Manila; Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art, Bangkok, Thailand; Altos de Chavon, Dominican Republic; Art Museum of Western Virginia, Roanoke; National Center of AfroAmerican Artists, Boston; National Museum and the National Gallery of Art, Jakarta, Indonesia and the Hadeland Museum in Norway, among others. Pacita's work also appeared in numerous group exhibitions including: Beyond the Border: Art by Recent Immigrants, Bronx Museum; Asia/America: Identities in Contemporary Asian American Art, Asia Society, New York; Olympiad of Art (in conjunction with the 24th Olympics), National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, Korea; 2nd Asian Art Show, Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan; La Bienal de la Habana, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Habana, Cuba; Art for Africa, traveling exhibition to Oslo, Cologne, Algiers, London and Rome; UNESCO: 40 Years, 40 Countries, 40 Artists, traveling exhibition to 15 museums around the world; Filipino Artists Abroad, Metropolitan Museum of Manila; and At Home and Abroad: 21 Contemporary Filipino Artists, traveling exhibition to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston among others. Pacitaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s paintings are now held in museum, public, corporate and private art collections in over 70 countries, and are regularly included in auctions by international auction houses. Among the museums that have collected Pacitaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s paintings are: the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan, Singapore Art Museum in Singapore, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea, National Museum of the Philippines, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Museum Nasional of Indonesia, Museo de Bellas Artes in Havana, Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, Bronx Museum in New York and Zimmerli Art Museum in New Jersey.
Biodata Born: Batanes, Philippines, October 5, 1946 Died: Singapore, December 7, 2004 Studied at: Art Students League of New York, NY, 1977 Corcoran School of Art, Washington, DC 1975 University of San Francisco, M.A. 1972 University of the Philippines, B.A. 1968 SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS Pacita held over 40 solo exhibitions at museums and galleries in Asia, the U.S., Europe, Africa and Latin America 2006 “Pacita: Through the Looking Glass”, Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay, Singapore 2005 “A Passion to Paint”, The World Bank Galleries, Washington, DC “A Special Tribute to Pacita Abad - A Philippine-American Artist”, School of Economics, Singapore Management University, Singapore 2004 “Circles in My Mind”, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila, curated by Prof. Rubén Defeo of the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts (catalogue) “Genomic Medicine and Population Health”, Artist-in-Residence with GENOME Institute of Singapore 2004 “Pacita’s Painted Bridge”, Robertson Quay, Singapore (catalogue) “Circles in My Mind”, AndrewShire Gallery, Los Angeles, California (catalogue)
2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998
“Batik Dinnerware Collection”, Senayan Cafe, Jakarta “Circles in My Mind”, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore (catalogue) “Endless Blues”, Hadeland Museum, Hadeland, Norway (catalogue) “Endless Blues”, Galleri Stockgard, Siuntio, Finland (catalogue) “Endless Blues”, Artfolio Gallery, Singapore (catalogue) "The Sky is the Limit”, Pulitzer Art Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands (catalogue) "The Sky is the Limit”, Gallery Stockgard, Siuntio, Finland (catalogue) "The Sky is the Limit”, Artfolio Gallery, Singapore (catalogue) "The Sky is the Limit”, Finale Art Gallery and SM Art Center Manila, Philippines (catalogue) “Palay” Montclair State University Art Galleries, New Jersey (catalogue) “Wayang Dinnerware Collection”, Koi Gallery, Jakarta (catalogue) “Door To Life”, Artfolio Gallery, Singapore (catalogue) “Door To Life”, Luz Gallery, Manila (catalogue) “Door To Life”, Bomani Gallery, San Francisco (catalogue) “Door To Life”, Gibson Creative, Washington, DC (catalogue) “Abstract Emotions”, National Museum, Jakarta (catalogue)
1998 1996 1995 1994 1994 1993 1992 1991 1989 1988 1986
“Abstract Emotions”, Hiraya Gallery, Manila (small works) “Exploring the Spirit”, National Gallery of Indonesia (catalogue) “Thinking Big”, curated by Cora Alvina, Metropolitan Museum of Manila “Postcards from the Edge”, Galleria Duemila, Manila “Twenty-four Flowers”, Liongoren Art Gallery, Makati, Philippines “Wayang, Irian and Sumba”, National Museum, Jakarta (catalogue) “The American Dream”, curated by Angela Adams National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC (brochure) “Assaulting the Deep Sea”, curated by Mark Scala Art Museum of Western Virginia (brochure) “Assaulting the Deep Sea”, curated by Deborah McLeod Peninsula Fine Arts, Norfolk, Virginia (brochure) “Flower Paintings”, Philippine Center, New York, NY ”Abstract Emotions”, Philippine Center, New York, NY “Wild At Art”, Ayala Museum, Makati, Philippines “Trapunto Paintings”, Franz Bader Gallery, Washington, DC “Asian Abstractions”, Fables Gallery, Cambridge, Massachusetts “Oriental Abstractions”, curated by Michael Chen Hong Kong Arts Center, Hong Kong (catalogue)
1986 1985 1984 1982 1981 1980 1979 1978 1977
"Assaulting the Deep Sea", Underwater installation at Ayala Museum, Manila, Philippines “Batanes – Landscape and People”, curated by Ray Albano Cultural Center of the Philippines “A Painter Looks at the World”, curated by Arturo Luz Museum of Philippine Art (catalogue) “Scenes From the Upper Nile”, curated by Harriet Kennedy Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Boston, Massachusetts “Portraits of Cambodia”, curated by Amy Lighthill Boston University Art Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts (catalogue) “Streets of Santo Domingo”, curated by Isabel Caceres de De Castro Altos De Chavon, La Romana, Dominican Republic (catalogue) “Portraits of Cambodia”, curated by Daeng Chatvichai Promadhathavedi Bhirasri, Institute of Modern Art, Bangkok, Thailand “Recent Paintings of the Sudan”, curated by Abdullah Shibrain Exhibition Hall, Khartoum, Sudan “Paintings of Bangladesh”, Dhaka, Bangladesh “Recent Paintings”, 15th Street Studio, Washington, DC
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS Pacita participated in more than 50 group and traveling exhibitions throughout the world. 2012 “BEAT” Exhibit, Lopez Memorial Museum Library, Pasig City, Philippines 2008 “The Sum of its Parts”, Lopez Memorial Museum Library, Pasig City, Philippines 2007 “The Big Picture Show“, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore 2006 “The Shape That Is“, Jendela Gallery, The Esplanade, Singapore 2004 "Crossings: Philippine Works from the Singapore Art Museum ", Ayala Museum, Manila, Philippines 2004 “Global Entrepolis” by Singapore's Economic Development Board at Suntec City Singapore, Singapore “SingArt - A Brush With Lions”, Raffles Hotel, Singapore “TOYM Art Exhibit", Manila, Philippines (catalogue) 2003 “The Third Asia Women Art Exhibition”, Seoul, Korea “Seoul International Women’s Art Fair”, Seoul, Korea "Brown Strokes on a White Canvas, 2003" Eight Filipino-American Artists at George Mason University, Arlington, Virginia and Harmony Hall, Fort Washington, Maryland “Philippine Exhibit”, Martin Luther King Library, Washington, DC
2002 2001 2001 2000 1999
"Sino-Filipino Contemporary Art", Asia World Hotel, Taipei, Taiwan (catalogue) “Spirited Faces: Painting in the Woman”, Gallerie Belvedere, Singapore “Singapore Art Fair 2002, “Suntec City, Singapore “Sky is the Limit installation”, curated by Valentine Willy The Esplanade, Singapore (catalogue) “Brown Strokes on a White Canvas”, World Bank Gallery and Foundry Gallery, Washington, DC “The Studio Portrait, A collaborative project by Carol Sun”, Bronx Museum, New York, NY “Mask: The Other Face of Humanity”, Sonobudoyo Museum Yogyakarta, Indonesia “Conversations with the Permanent Collection”, Bronx Museum, New York, NY "ARTSingapore 2000”, First Contemporary Southeast Asian Festival, MITA, Singapore “Luna: comic drama and art to wear”, directed by Gilda Cordero Fernando, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila ”Handmade: Shifting Paradigms”, curated by Tay Swee Lin, Singapore Art Museum (catalogue) "Women Beyond Borders”, a traveling exhibit organized by Lorraine Serena, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Southern California, Akino Fuku Museum, Japan, Tin Sheds Gallery University of Sydney,
Australia; Manly Art Gallery and Museum, Sydney; Gallery Saigon, Vietnam; Gallery One, Tokyo, Japan 1999 1998 1997
"Global Woman Project 1999-2000”, curated by Claudia De Monte, traveling exhibit in the United States "Histories (Re)membered: Selections from the Permanent Collection”, Paine Webber Art Gallery, New York, NY "V'spartio (Very Special Arts)", Artfolio, Singapore and Osaka, Japan "At Home and Abroad: 21 Contemporary Filipino Artists”, traveling exhibition to Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Metropolitan Museum of Manila (Catalogue) “Woman”, Institute of Contemporary Art (PS.1), New York, NY “Bayan”, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines “The Gallery Artists, Part 2”, Brix Gallery, Manila, Philippines “New Asian Art”, Hong Kong Visual Arts Center, Hong Kong “World Batik Exhibition”, Ardiyanto Gallery, Yogyakarta, Indonesia “Filipino Artists Abroad”, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines “National Craft Acquisition Award”, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia “Talk Back! The Community Responds to the Permanent Collection”, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, New York, NY
1997 1996 1996
“8th International Biennal Print and Drawing Exhibit”, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan (catalogue) “Book Art IV”, Luz Gallery, Makati, Philippines ”7th International Biennal Print and Drawing Exhibit”, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan (catalogue) ”National Craft Acquisition Award”, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia “Memories of Overdevelopment: Philippine Diaspora in Contemporary Visual Art”, curated by Yong Soon Min and Alan de Souza, traveling exhibit to University of California Art Galleries, North Dakota Art Museum; Plug-In Gallery, Canada “Looking at Ourselves: The American Portrait”, curated by Laura Vookles, Hudson River Museum of Westchester in New York (brochure) “Eight Paths to a Journey: Cultural Identity and the Immigration Experience”, curated by Mel Watkin, Ellipse Gallery, Arlington, Virginia “Defining Ourselves”, curated by Anna Fariello, Radford University Galleries, Radford, Virginia “Contemporary Art of the Non-Aligned Countries”, curated by G. Sheikh T.K. Sabapathy, A. Poshyananda and Jim Supangkat, National Gallery of Indonesia (catalogue) “AKO, Filipino Self Portraits”, curated by Cora Alvina, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines
1995 1993 1993
“disOriented: Shifting Identities of Asian Women in America”, curated by Margo Machida Steinbaum Krauss Gallery and Henry Street Settlement Abrams Art Center, New York, NY “Beyond the Border: Art by Recent Immigrants”, curated by Betti Sue Hertz, Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, NY (catalogue) “Asia/America: Identities in Contemporary Asian American Art”, curated by Margo Machida and organized by the Asia Society Galleries, NY - traveling to the Tacoma Art Museum, Washington; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Honolulu Academy of Fine Arts, Hawaii; Center for the Arts at Yerba Buena, San Francisco MIT List Visual Arts Center, Massachusetts and Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, Texas (catalogue) “TOUCH, Beyond the Visual”, curated by Angela Adams and Paula Owen - a traveling exhibitions organized by the Hand Workshop, Richmond, Virginia to include Sawtooth Center for the Visual Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History, Danville, Virginia; Piedmont Arts Association, Martinsville, Virginia (catalogue) “Women’s Spirit with Pacita Abad, Hung Liu, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Howardena Pindell, Joyce Scott”, Bomani Gallery, San Francisco, California “Washington Project for the Arts at the Hemicycle”, curated by Marilyn Zeitlin Alan Prokop, Judy Jashinsky and Sammy Hoi, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC “Crossing Over/Changing Places”, curated by Jane Farmer, sponsored by USIA, a traveling exhibit in the United States and Europe including Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb; Helsinki City Art Kunstmuseum, Denmark; National Gallery of Art, Athens; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (catalogue)
1991 1991 1990 1988 1986 1984
”Fiber: The State of the Art”, curated by Rebecca Stevens, Meyerhoff Gallery, Maryland Institute and College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland “Nine Paths to a Journey: The Immigrant Experience”, curated by Mel Watkin Ellipse Gallery, Arlington, Virginia (brochure) “Day of the Dead”, curated by Geno Rodriguez, Alternative Museum, New York, NY (brochure) “Art for Africa”, curated by Andre Parinaud, traveling exhibition to museums in Paris, Oslo, Cologne, Algiers, London and Rome ”Olympiad of Art”, curated by Ante Glibota, Pierre Restany, Thomas Messer and Uske Nakahara, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea (catalogue) “La Bienal de la Habana”, Museo Nacional de Belles Artes, Habana, Cuba (catalogue) “UNESCO: 40 Years, 40 Countries, 40 Artists”, curated by Andre Parinaud traveling exhibit in museums of 40 member countries (catalogue) “First International Print Bienale”, curated by Huang Tsai-lang, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan (catalogue) “Asian Art Biennale”, curated by Syed Jahangir, National Museum, Dhaka, Bangladesh (catalogue) “Second Asian Art Show” curated by Nonon Padilla, Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan (catalogue) “Three Faces in Philippine Art”, curated by Rod Paras Perez, BMW Gallery, Munich, Germany (catalogue)
“Sino-Filipino Modern Art”, Asia World Hotel, Taipei, Taiwan “Association of South East Asian Countries”, curated by Rod Paras Perez, a traveling exhibition to museums in South East Asian countries
COSTUME DESIGNS Pacita was involved as a costume designer for a number of collaborative Asian theater groups • “Luna: Comic Drama and Art to Wear”, theater extravaganza for the New Millennium with an all star cast of Filipino artists, models and performers produced by Gilda Cordero Fernando and directed by Manny Chaves, Cultural Center of the Philippines, 2000 • “Long After Love”, Pacific Bridge Theater, Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian, 1992 • “Folktales of Lola Ita”, sponsored by Amauan, Applecore Theater, New York, NY 1988 WORKSHOPS AND LECTURES Pacita constantly gave workshops and artist talks to children, women and students across the world during her 32-year artistic career. 2004 “Painting the Globe” Artist Talk, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore "ArtSingapore 2004: Asian Contemporary Art, Where Are We Going From Here?" Artist Talk, Suntec City, Singapore "Paper Pulp and Print" Workshop for Globe Quest guest, in conjunction to the "Circles in My Mind" exhibition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila
2004 2003 2002 2001
"Paper Pulp and Print" Workshop for Singapore Airlines guest, in conjunction to the "Circles in My Mind" exhibition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila "Make-A-Wish Workshop" with Klein, a 9-year old PhilippineSingaporean boy who suffers from cancer “Collage Painting” Workshop, Tanglin Trust School, Singapore “Finns in Singapore Trapunto Painting” Workshop, Singapore “Contemporary Trends of Philippine Art Overseas”, talk given to docents at Singapore Art Museum “Trapunto Painting” Workshop, given to Scandinavian community in Singapore ”Trapunto painting”, Asian Civilization Museum Singapore “Collage Painting” Workshop, Tanglin Trust School, Singapore “Collage Painting” Workshop, Singapore Art Museum “Asian Contemporary Art”, Artist Talk, Singapore Art Museum “The Philippines: Prospects in Business and the Arts”, sponsored by Philippine Cultural Society at Hilton Hotel, Singapore “Trapunto Painting” Workshops given to members of Singapore Art Museum, Tanglin Trust students, talk and slide presentation given to American Club members in Singapore “The 9/11 Phoenix Project”, a collaborative Trapunto Workshop at the Southwest School of Arts and Crafts that created a three muralinstallation with local artists from San Antonio, Texas
2000 1999 1998 1996 1995 1994
"Wayang Influences on Art”, lecture given to Indonesian Heritage Society, Jakarta, Indonesia Trapunto Painting workshops at the Tanglin Trust School, Singapore; Metropolitan Museum of Manila Artist Talk, Singapore Art Museum and LaSalle College of Art, Singapore Artist Talk, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco Trapunto Painting Workshop, University of the Philippines and Metropolitan Museum of Manila Trapunto Painting Workshop, National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta Trapunto Painting Workshop, Metropolitan Museum of Manila and British School in Jakarta, Indonesia "Artist + Community”, trapunto painting workshop given to schools in Maryland and Washington, DC (Savoy Elementary School, Thompson Elementary School, Oyster Bilingual School, Mabuhay Group) sponsored by the National Museum for Women in the Arts "Exploring America's Cultures: Asian American Art & Culture”, Columbia University Teacher's College, New York, NY "Cultural Identity: Evaluating Otherness”, Crafts and Ethics Symposium, Sawtooth Center for Visual Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina Textile Museum mask-making workshop for Oyster Bilingual Elementary School students, Washington, DC
1992 1991 1991 1989
"Light in the Labyrinth”, painting workshop with patients with Alzheimer's to sharpen their remaining abilities, help maintain mind and motor skills and encourage independence, work with the Meridian Healthcare's FOCUS program “Potomac Craftsmen”, lecture on trapunto paintings, Washington, D.C Asian-American Pacific Heritage Council Conference, "Impact of Arts, Culture and Media on the Politics and Economics of Asian Pacific”, panel, Arlington, Virginia Philippine Arts, Letters and Media, Washington, DC trapunto painting workshop Pyramid Atlantic, "Asian Festival”, mural workshop for Asian children University of the Philippines, Trapunto Painting Workshop University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Art To Wear workshop Textile Museum, Washington, DC "Celebration of Textiles”, workshop George Washington University, Dimock Gallery in relation to the show, "Temples of Gold, Crowns of Silver”, lecture Art In Public Places, MetroArt II, Washington DC, Artist Talk MetroArt in Washington, Washington, DC, Artist Talk Imagination Celebration-Kennedy Center Mural Workshop New York State Council on the Arts, Lincoln Community Center, New York, NY, Trapunto Painting Workshop for Amauan members
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, taught two, three-month courses on trapunto painting Lectures given to students at schools and universities: Boston University; University of Massachusetts; College of Arts, Sudan; Dhaka College of Fine Arts in Bangladesh; public schools and colleges in Metropolitan Manila Lectures given to museums and other organizations: Shilpakala Academy of Fine Arts, Bangladesh; Bhirasri Museum of Modern Art, Thailand; Museum of Philippine Art; Cultural Center of the Philippines; Ayala Museum; World Affairs Council of Northern California; Jaycees and Rotary Clubs in the Philippines; and various women's organizations
AWARDS, GRANTS / FELLOWSHIPS Pacita received many awards, fellowships and artist residencies during her career • ALIWW “Parangal” Ateneo University, Manila, Philippines • GENOME Institute of Singapore, Singapore, artist-in-residence, 2004 • Centre d’Art Marnay Art Centre, Marnay, France, artist-in-residence, 2003 • Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore, artist-in-residence, Visiting Artists Program, 2003 • Southwest School of Art and Craft, San Antonio, Texas, artist-in-residence, 2001 • Montclair State University, New Jersey, artist-in-residence, 2001 • Lindshammar, Sweden, Glass painting, Indra technique, artist-in-residence, 2001 • PAMANA NG PILIPINO Award for outstanding achievement in the arts, given by the President of the Philippines, Manila, 2000
• "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, DC, 1998 • Likha Award marking the Centennial of Philippine Independence, given in recognition of outstanding achievement, 1998 • Excellence 2000 Awards for the Arts, given by U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, 1995 • Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Artist Workshop Program, 1993-94 • OPUS B, a production company in Maryland creating collaborations between elders, inner-city youth and artists, artist-in-resident, 1993 • Virginia Center for Creative Arts, artist-in-resident, 1992, 1994, 1996 • Rutgers Center for Innovative Printmaking, artist-in-residence, 1991, 1992 and 1993 • Gwendolyn Caffritz Award, Pyramid Atlantic, artist-in-residence, 1991 and 1992 • MetroArt II Award, mural installed at Metro Center, Washington, DC 199095 • National Endowment for the Arts, Visual Arts Fellowship, 1989-90 • DC Commission on the Arts, GIA Grant, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1991-92 • New York State Council on the Arts, Visiting Artist Program, 1988-89 • TOYM Award for the Most Outstanding Young Artist in the Philippines, 1984 • Altos de Chavon, Dominican Republic, artist-in-residence, 1982
WORK IN MUSEUM COLLECTIONS • Ayala Museum of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines • Bhirasri Museum of Modern Art, Bangkok, Thailand • Bronx Museum of the Art, Bronx, New York • Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines • Eugenio Lopez Museum, Manila, Philippines • Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan • Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick, New Jersey • Jordan National Gallery of Fine Art, Amman, Jordan • Lopez Memorial Museum, Manila, Philippines • Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines • Museo de Arte Moderno, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic • Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba • Museum and Art Gallery in the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia • Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Boston, Massachusetts • National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia • National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC • National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC • National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea • National Museum, Colombo, Sri Lanka • National Museum, Dhaka, Bangladesh • National Museum, Jakarta, Indonesia • Singapore Art Museum, Singapore • Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan
Fundaciรณn Pacita, Batanes