Fil-Am artists present diverse perspectives on Filipino culture

Fil-Am artists present diverse perspectives on Filipino culture

The Forest Lawn Museum exhibit showcases Filipino heritage and its influence on California’s cultural tapestry
/ 11:25 PM March 21, 2024

Art by Eliseo Silva

Image credit: Eliseo Art Silva, Inang Kayumanggi ng California (The Brown Madonna of California), 2022. Acrylic on canvas, 25 x 30 inches. Courtesy of the artist

GLENDALE, Calif. — Seven Filipino American contemporary artists are set to showcase Philippine heritage and its influence on California’s cultural tapestry in an upcoming exhibit at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale.

The artists featured in “Filipino California: Art and the Filipino Diaspora” include Eliseo Art Silva, Allison Hueman, Anthony Francisco, Maryrose Cobarrubias Mendoza, Christine Morla, Maria Villote and Junn Roca.

Working across various styles and formats, these artists address issues related to Filipino culture and the Filipino-American experience.

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“It is a rare privilege to exhibit with fellow Filipino American artists, as it enables us to explore the shared and diverse perspectives of our Philippine heritage and our influence on California’s cultural tapestry,” said Silva, who is among the most visible Fil-Am artists in the US.

Silva said Filipinos have had a significant presence in California since Oct. 18, 1587, which marks the first arrival of Filipinos in the continental United States, in Morro Bay, California, “contributing to the state’s development as one of the earliest Asian founding families (pobladores) in Los Angeles.”

One of Silva’s major public art projects in Los Angeles is “Talang Gabay: Our Guiding Star,” the gateway arch in Historic Filipinotown.


Silva was born in Manila and migrated to the US when he was 17 years old. He now has studios in both the US and the Philippines. His art incorporates elements of surrealism and is charged with political meaning that examines his experiences as an immigrant and honors the sacrifices and contributions of Filipinos in America.

Allison Hueman is an Oakland-based artist whose diverse portfolio includes outdoor murals, fine art painting and immersive installations.

Hueman first gained prominence with her street art, and she is recognized for her distinct style, which  she calls “etherealism.” Her artwork has a dreamlike quality that combines human figures with abstract elements and gauzy layers.

Art by Allison Hueman

Image credit: Allison Hueman, The Mystery of Life, 2024. Acrylic, wax and spray paint on canvas, 96 x 72 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Hueman has collaborated with some of the world’s top brands, including Nike, Sony Music and the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

Her new paintings include one inspired by “The Mystery of Life,” a sculpture at Forest Lawn created in 1928 by Italian artist Ernesto Gazzeri.

Anthony Francisco is a creator, director, illustrator and concept artist who has worked on a range of creative projects, including more than 20 films.

For nine years, he worked as a senior visual development artist for Marvel Studios, where he designed iconic characters such as Baby Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy), Loki (Thor) and the Dora Milaje warriors (Black Panther).

Throughout his career, Francisco has used inspiration and influences from Filipino culture when designing new characters. He is currently developing multiple projects, including an animated series on Filipino folklore and a vast science-fiction universe called “Creature Chronicles.”

Christine Morla is a multidisciplinary artist best known for her installations that examine color, texture and scale.

Inspired by the Philippine banig, handwoven mats used for sleeping and sitting, Morla creates labor-intensive installations with hundreds of pieces of painted paper, found materials and smaller weavings.

Her work explores the complexities of contemporary identity, with each element of her installations contributing to vibrant works that investigate cultural signifiers within and outside of her own inspirations and influences.

Maryrose Cobarrubias Mendoza is a multidisciplinary artist who examines the impact of history, memory and nostalgia on individual experience.

She was raised in Manila before migrating to Los Angeles as a young child. Her artwork comes out of her experience as part of the Filipino diaspora. Mendoza plays with scale, material and perspective to transform existing images and objects into new artworks.

Art by Maryrose Cobarrubias Mendoza

Image credit: Maryrose Cobarrubias Mendoza, ism, 2018-2020. Paper, colored pencil, 8.5 x 11 feet (per sheet of paper). Courtesy of the artist.

Her work is intended as an act of decolonization that asks viewers to reconsider the history, context and value of these objects and experiences.

Among her many accolades, Mendoza was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts in 2019.

Maria Villote was born in Manila and migrated to the United States at the age of 10. Her artwork explores important topics around diasporic identities including assimilation and cultural alienation.

Many of her pieces use recognizable objects in unexpected ways. Villote aims to highlight the cultural amalgamation that occurs when two worlds collide, drawing analogies between cultures while exploring similarities and differences.

Above all, she wants her artwork to encourage viewers to reflect on their own cultural identity, shed light on the challenges faced by immigrants and create connections that bridge gaps between different cultures.

For over 40 years, Junn Roca has worked in both fine art and commercial art. He was born and raised in the Philippines, where he apprenticed for noted Filipino painter Felix Gonzales.

After moving to the US in 1979, Roca began a successful career in the animation industry, working as a background artist and earning two Emmy Awards.

Today Roca works primarily as a plein air painter, and the exhibition features works that show scenes ranging from rustic villages in the Philippines to iconic California landscapes.

“We are thrilled to showcase this group of artists and their expressions of Filipino culture across genres and styles,” said museum director James Fishburne, PhD, who curated the exhibition.

“From Anthony Francisco’s contributions to popular culture, to Allison Hueman’s influence in the realms of street art and studio painting, the artists in this exhibition offer us a better understanding of Filipino culture and its impact on contemporary society.”

Silva said Filipinos have been in California for centuries and continue to shape the state. “It’s an honor to exhibit alongside other Filipino-American artists and explore the commonalities and variations among our perspectives on the culture of the Philippines and the impact we have made on the culture of California,” he added.

The exhibition will be on view at Forest Lawn Museum from April 20 to Sept. 8, 2024. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, April 20, from 5 p.m.–7 p.m. at Forest Lawn Museum, 1712 S. Glendale Avenue, Glendale, CA 91205.

The event will include live music and complimentary Filipino food and drinks. The event will also feature the presentation of a $500 Forest Lawn Museum Arts Fellowship to rising Fil-Am artist Edmund Arevalo.

The free, family-friendly event includes free parking and is open to the public, ADA compliant and wheelchair accessible. Guests are invited to RSVP here. If you have questions, email [email protected] or call 323-340-4782.

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TAGS: art exhibit, Fil-Am, Filipino American artists
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