Companions: mas masarap magkasama

Curator: Tina Plokarz
April 16 – September 3, 2022

Companions – mas masarap magkasama (which roughly translates to “more delicious together) was a multimedia exhibition of interactive prints and site-specific art installations by Filipino-American visual artist Maria Dumlao in collaboration with Filipinx group Bahay215 (Nicky Uy and Omar Buenaventura). The project explored food culture within the Filipinx community in the United States as a vehicle for the human desire for belonging and rooting into a new environment.

Focussing on non-human ‘displaced relatives’ that connect Asia, Europe, and North America, Dumlao assembled the natural and metaphorical ingredients from botany and commerce into colorful images that reveal through the help of color filters hidden stories of indigeneity, food trades, migration, and acclimating environments. Invasive knotweed in familiar landscapes, processed pork meat on pineapples, and buzzing honey bees populate homes, forests, and garden centers, Dumlao’s prints focus on what is omitted or uprooted in (neo)colonial narratives between the Philippines and the US. In combination with displays built out of bamboo the exhibition opened a dialogue about ecology, authorship, and cultural authenticity in intertwined environments. 

The exhibition was part of the Schuylkill Center’s 2022 “Year of Restoration” that celebrated the protection of our environment from and adaption to today’s globalized world. Companions seeks to break down the false dichotomy between nature and culture: blending art, ecology and food, investigating how we, as individuals and as a community, define ourselves through food, plants, and our relationships with each other. 

Generous support for this project has been provided by the Joseph Robert Foundation, the Velocity Fund to Maria Dumlao, the Leeway Foundation’s Art and Change Grant to Nicky Uy, Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award in 2021 to Maria Dumlao, and in-kind repurposed materials provided by Asian Arts Initiative. Additionally, the Schuylkill Center’s environmental art program is supported by the National Wildlife Federation for event programming and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

More information about the exhibition here.

Event Highlights

* Opening and Spring Wild Food Walk with music by Philippine Folk Arts Society Inc’s Rondalla, artists talk and foraging walk with Nicholas Tonetti, April 2022
* Art Kids Tour with Tina Plokarz, Director of Environmental Art, May 2022
* Summer Wild Food Walk with Nicholas Tonetti and Nicky Uy, June 2022
* Art Workshop in RGB with Maria Dumlao, July 2022

Press Highlights

Interview with Maria Dumlao. Past Present Projects, by Heather Moqtaderi, August 2022.

Nature’s CompanionsThe Times Herald and on our blog, by Tina Plokarz, April 2022.

Velocity Fund grantsInquirer, April 2022.