Among the young, up-and-coming visual artists today, UP Fine Arts graduate Ina Jardiolin stands out among her peers with her powerful artistic voice and her use of a most unusual medium: leather.
A very challenging material on which she expresses herself, Ina — whose family hails from the local footwear industry — utilizes this medium with much dexterity, notably a result of careful experimentation, a singular vision, and an innovative approach to her craft.
In her second solo show, titled “Stretch(ed) Mark(ed)”, Ina harnessed discarded treated leather scraps as her canvas — delving into self-identity and the intangible, fleshing out the beauty in androgyny, while touching on the realities of life.
Ina uses her art as a means to communicate, and to those like her who are introspective, and at times misunderstood, she aims to reach out, to make it known that they are not alone and that they need not feel confused. Ina’s goal is to convey a message of empowerment and of hope.
Way before gender issues became the subject of sometimes-heated exchange of perspectives, Ina has been scrutinizing the controversy in her mind and consequently, in her artwork. “My art is my own reaction to identity and the cultural expectations regarding gender,” Ina explains. “I want the world to be more open to different ideas that veer away from usual norms.”
In “Stretch(ed) Mark(ed),” the young artist probes into the scars that gender roles impose among us, how these obstructive assignments often mark each of us permanently. The intricately cobbled leather scraps signify how these gender norms sometimes leave individuals grasping at pieces of their genuine identity to gain a sense of individuality and acceptance.
The controversial message is consistently conveyed in the androgynous subjects of her paintings, inviting viewers to embrace both male and female energies, to take a genuine look at one’s self and to be true to that vision.
Apart from mounted paintings using leather scraps, Ina will once again display art pieces using wooden shoe lasts (referred to as ‘hulma’ by local shoemakers) in her upcoming exhibit. She is the first artist to make use of this vintage shoe-making implement as a ‘canvas’.
The use of both leather and shoe lasts pays homage to her family’s background as Marikina shoemakers. Transforming the shoe lasts into art pieces is a gesture that honors her ancestors whose labors nurtured both the family and helped build the local shoe industry. Leather, a pliant and resilient material, epitomizes the spirit that her family has stood by for generations.
Utilizing non-conventional medium is her way of stepping outside the lines to convey her message: “Everything—and everyone—should not be restricted by a set of roles made by those who are comfortable staying within the bounds of what is “normal” and acceptable”.
Her art, which includes printmaking, ceramics and illustration, is one that constantly evolves and is in constant flux, much like the fluidity of gender.
Ultimately, Ina Jardiolin sees her art as giving a voice to others who cannot otherwise express themselves, taking up their cudgels and, in the process, gaining a deeper understanding of herself.
Prepare to be enlightened by Ina’s masterpieces at Stretch(ed) Mark(ed), which runs from September 10 to 25, 2017 at Kaida Contemporary, #45 Scout Madrinan, South Triangle, Quezon City.