For November, we are featuring Paris Jomadiao: a visual artist and alumna of the University of Houston’s Fine Arts program.
Interview by editor Adrienne Meyers
The Aletheia: So, Paris, tell us a little bit about yourself (where you’re from, grew up, education).
Paris Jomadiao: Hello! I was born in the Philippines but grew up in Houston, TX . Although I wasn’t born in Houston, I definitely consider myself a native. I’ve been living here 21 years, and I just recently graduated with my BFA in Photography & Digital Media from the University of Houston.
TA: What brought you to Houston/ Center for Contemporary Craft residency?
PJ: During my senior year of undergrad, I began pursuing different opportunities that would allow me to continue my studio practice. I didn’t want to immediately pursue a graduate degree, especially after taking so long to complete my BFA.
By chance, I came across the residency program at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and I felt that a residency would be a great way for me to build up my portfolio & immerse myself in my practice for the time being.
TA: Certain imagery seems to be visible throughout much of your work (trees, skulls, animals, people). What is the significance of these images? Some of your works are quite fantastical- are they based out of personal experience or primarily imagination?
PJ: A lot of my work deals the impact & significance of personal experiences;
I explore the possible purposes of our experiences and how this relates to our existence. A lot of the imagery is representative of prominent figures or concepts that stem from my own memories and experiences. The trees, for example, are used a lot in my work that deals with familial relationships and is a direct allusion to the idea of the family tree.
Altogether, the imagery in my work so far, especially in my animations, is used to construct whimsical worlds which act as retreats I like to bring my viewers into; they’re also representations of my experiences overall. These worlds I create are places where one would escape, confront, and attempt to resolve personal conflicts.
TA: How did the cut paper work come out of your degree in Photography and Digital Media? What if any is the correlation between your photographic works and your cut paper works?
PJ: For me, artwork is equal parts process and concept, so I enjoy processes that allow me to work with my hands and do things manually. I began my photography and digital media degree doing manual, darkroom processed photography, but as the program became more catered towards digital processes, I lost my footing for a while. It wasn’t until one of my instructors introduced me to the process of stop-motion animation that I was able return to a more manual approach to my art making. I was actually introduced to cut-paper illustration when I attempted to pursue graphic communications, and I absolutely fell in love with the process. In a way, stop-motion animation allowed me to “rediscover” cut-paper and incorporate it into my work on a more conceptual level. Afterwards, I began experimenting more by utilizing cut-paper illustration along with other mixed-media techniques, primarily collage.
As far as a correlation between my photographic works and my current work, I would say that I still explore a lot of the same concepts as I did back then. I just think that now my work is a lot more approachable for the viewer and can be interpreted more ways; I think my photographic work was a lot more direct and restricting in that sense.
TA: In general, what is your process of working? How do you treat the shapes and materials in relation to your final product?
PJ: I usually start out with an image or idea in my mind and then explore whatever processes are best for achieving the final product. Not a lot of planning actually goes into my work; it’s both a good and bad thing. It’s frustrating at times, because the work can be a bit unpredictable, and it becomes harder to prepare for whenever something goes wrong. However, I do like the spontaneity that comes with this approach. A lot of times the final product will look so much more different than what I’d visualized in the beginning, and it’s really interesting to see how the entire piece turns out in the end.
I like to think that the materials I use relate a lot to the ideas I’m trying to explore. Paper, for example, is really interesting, because it’s seen mostly as a material onto which you draw or write, but the paper itself can be used to do so much more than that. I also like that despite it being a fragile medium, when treated a certain way, it can be quite resilient. It’s little details & qualities like these that I like to take into consideration whenever I am I working with particular materials, sources, or imagery. I also apply the same thought process when searching for collage materials.
For more information on Paris and her work, visit her website: http://parisfjomadiao.com/