Insights into Existentialism: IB Visual Arts Exhibition

Insights into Existentialism: IB Visual Arts Exhibition




  1. a philosophical theory or approach which emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.

As part of CIS’s STEAM Week 2019 celebration, the Grade 12 students under the IB Visual Arts program opened their annual art exhibition, which featured the theme of “Existentialism.” Through this exhibit, each artist in the class had the opportunity to showcase two years worth of their blood, sweat, and tears as they displayed the best of their artwork. The Dragon’s Print team caught up with some of these artists to find out how they felt about their art pieces and the exhibit as a whole.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article represent the personal views of the author and should not be taken to represent the views of Dragon’s Print and Cebu International School.

Nina, “Tandaan”

What is the theme or message behind your artwork?

My overall theme for my exhibit is social issues. This specific piece is about the risk of Filipinos losing touch of their cultural roots. My painting is reminiscent of an old photograph of an aristocratic Filipino woman. You can see the juxtaposition with the overall use of brown tone which makes the painting look really old. But the subject itself is wearing modernized clothes, having westernized makeup, and as you can see she is doing the heart symbol which is a very famous Korean thing to do. So basically what it is trying to do is that the more we’re becoming more modern, we are at the risk of disregarding our cultural norms in terms of assimilating the influences and traditions of other cultures. Another juxtaposition was added through the installation of the antique chairs and the old Filipino rosary. That symbolises traditional Filipino woman and how they are very conservative and how they are very religious as opposed to Filipinas or people nowadays.

How did you get your inspirations through your process?

I think as a person taking art, inspiration comes and goes. I was walking through the mall and I saw a realistic painting of an old portrait of an aristocratic Filipino woman, so I got really inspired. That painting was dated 2000 or late 1990s. So I thought about the contrast how Filipinos represent themselves nowadays and I wanted to interject that at my own artwork and manipulate it to convey the message that I want.

Do you have a process when you begin a new piece? Or do you tend to work spontaneously?

For me, when I’m making a piece, I have to really plan it out. Every single thing, like the colors. I really want to plan it out before I start doing it because it makes me feel like I have control [of] everything.

How does your work fit into the theme of Existentialism?

I think the overall theme for the exhibit is finding one’s own identity and putting yourself out there in contrast with the movement of so many people and different culture and finding your own self. So I think, my piece “Tandaan,” really fits in well with the theme because it talks about like your own identity and even though we become more modernized we should become more in touch from where we came from.

Mayumi, “Ang Ako”

What is the theme behind your artwork?

All of my artworks are based on the ideas of dreams. This one specifically is about my own dreams as an artists and as a student and senior especially as I am graduating. And this artwork is about portraying what I hope for in the future.

How does this artwork portray your dreams exactly?

The colors used in this artwork are like purple, pink, and yellow. Purple represents dreams, pink represents being bold, and yellow represents happiness, optimism, and positivity. So for my future, as a senior and as I am graduating, I don’t know where I will be in the future but I hope that it will be a happy future and I will take it with boldness and positivity. This is the concept of the self portrait.

How does your work fit into the theme Existentialism?

Existentialism is about knowing yourself and being. Like being one person.  So for me to exist everyone should have at least thought about what they want in the future or at least have been more creative to dream as they sleep .So when i think about Existentialism in my case i want to show that I have hopes and dreams in the future and I want to portray that in this artwork.

How do you feel about the exhibit and all the work you did to get to this point?

Honestly when we were doing it, I felt mixed emotions. I felt very happy but I was also very sad because my IB Art journey was about to end. I finished all the work that I have and looking at my artwork I felt very proud of the amount of work I put to each one. When I was putting up my exhibit I want to make it the best I can be – the best it could be, because I want to give my artworks justice. If I gave my artwork this much effort, I might as well present them in the best way possible. So overall, I would think that the entire journey, the entire IB art journey, has been absolutely incredible. It has been very educational and I enjoyed it very much.

Myles, “Maglakbay”

What is the theme behind your artworks?

The theme behind my artworks is travel. I chose this for multiple reasons such as coming from a mixed culture family and living in different countries other than the Philippines. These helped me express myself and come up with a theme for art.

Do you have a process when you begin a new piece? Or do you tend to work spontaneously?

I’m a bit of both. At the start of IB, I could say, I started to come up with ideas that are more natural flowing and they were more of my own. But as time and time went on, and the deadlines became shorter and shorter, I stressed out more and had to find a faster solution to get quick ideas. And that lead me to looking at posters and other things about travel. But it wasn’t necessary that I would look at these works and try to copy, I was more like “what can I express in my own way?” Other things that really inspired me to make artworks were my own memories along with going through pictures of where I’ve been and what I’ve seen.

What’s your personal favorite artwork?

There’s definitely a few, but the one that sticks out the most would be “Maglakbay.” It’s not just the color or the design that makes it my favorite; it’s more on the time and the effort I put into it. And for me, that’s really important and that will always be in my mind and remind me how much effort I put into it. I’ve seen a lot of artworks that are made out of license plates, especially in the US, so I’ve always thought of trying to make the same thing, because the theme is travel. But in the Philippines, license plates are very hard to find because the car will have its license plate until it dies. So license plates were kind of hard to find. I actually had to do some research and actually go downtown and ask around to find a source. Once I did, I looked up these license plates and they were all from the early 1960s, and that adds a lot of detail to the work, which was pretty cool. Along with that, I made the license plates resemble the Philippines because not only is that where I am from, or where I was born and raised, but I’ve always wanted to explore the Philippines itself. Having 7000+ islands, there’s so much more to explore. So for me, travel does not only mean traveling the world but also traveling where you came from.

How does your work fit into the theme of Existentialism?

I believe it fits in by being free flowing and IB also helps out, along with my teachers and my own ideas. It’s being yourself I guess, and expressing what you have learned or what you’ve seen in your life. And so trying to express that into your artworks and adding vivid colors and all those different things to make them more unique.

How do you feel about the exhibit and all the work you did to get to this point?

I’m really proud of all the time and effort that everyone else put into making this exhibit happen, along with our artworks because it took so long and especially with the deadlines of having around a month to finish one work. So it was always rushing and trying to make it as perfect as we can with the time we have. But at the end of the day it was still worth it and there will be memories because no matter what, this will stick with you in life, especially with the amount of time we put into it. I had to have a lot of experiments, so that was always a difficult time, but in the end I’m sure it will be worth it because you will always remember how you got there.

Chantal, “La Condition Humaine”

What is the theme behind your artworks?

The general theme behind my exhibit is the human existence and how us humans in some cases may have done more damage that good. In general, you can probably say that my theme is social issues.

What is your personal favorite one?

My favorite one is “La Condition Humaine.” The reason behind this was because this was sort of my “finale” of an artwork I guess. This was the last artwork I ever made and I noticed that all of my artworks [surrounded] social issues but nothing was truly, truly personal to just me and so this artwork surrounds the criticism I faced living in the Philippines, especially how there’s always expectations because there’s always a mom watching, there’s always a tita watching and you’ll always be the child of that woman who doesn’t care about her daughter. There’s just so many expectations if you’re a girl– not necessarily just a girl, but also a child growing up in a country like the Philippines where everybody knows everybody’s business. This artwork is me saying “I don’t care what you think of me anymore, think what you want.”

How does your artwork fit into the theme of “Existentialism?”

I think my exhibit fits into it in the sense where you can see the process– my process of accepting myself and the faults in my society and essentially educating myself and in the end, this was really just a more personal journey on understanding the faults in our world. I think it relates to Existentialism because it’s really for no one else, other than me to discover how I feel about certain issues and what I want to do to participate.

How do you feel about the exhibit and all the work you did to get to this point?

In the beginning, I probably would have said something like “This is a piece of cake” or “This is so irritating! Why can’t I just do what I want?” But then in the end, especially if you’re planning something on a scale like this, everything has to be thought out. I think I’m just lucky that this just happened to fit together, and this just happened to fit together and it all kind of fell into piece. But then, really, I’m the type of person who does not like being spontaneous, like everything has to be planned, but on the other hand, if you’re working with art, not everything can be planned and sometimes, you have a new spark or new idea and you just have to do it immediately.

Andre, “Iceberg”

What is the theme behind your artworks?

The theme behind my artworks is change. And I think every work tries to touch [on] a different section of change, so for instance, ”Iceberg” is about global warming, but then I also have different pieces that are showing my personal change, and I have pieces that show change of emotion, and sometimes I show pollution. I just try to cover as much as possible and I want every artwork to have a different portrayal of change.

Do you have a process when you begin a new piece? Or do you tend to work spontaneously?

I think every piece starts out differently. Sometimes, I just have an idea in my head and follow through with it, but sometimes I also look for concepts or ideas and develop them .

What’s your personal favorite artwork?

I wouldn’t say I have a favorite, but what I really like is “The Iceberg.” It is a medium that is quite unique and not a lot of people do it. So, I originally made the sketch in my first year and was one of my first designs. It was originally meant to be made with watercolor, but I didn’t push through with it. It was actually one of the last artworks that I created and it is made with wood veneer cut into pieces and stuck back together sort of like a mosaic. To me, it is one of the most challenging pieces because I tried to figure everything out myself, such as how to cut it and how to stick it together. “Iceberg” is made up of wood pieces, and basically the big chunks and the lighter blue and white represent an iceberg. Then you have these smaller chunks bunched up together, making the ocean. Then, we see this orange and red sun bearing down onto the iceberg, representing global warming and how the icebergs are melting.

How does your work fit into the theme of Existentialism?

I think my work fits in because in all my pieces I portray change but I also show myself as an individual, and I try to show what I believe in and my ideals through all my pieces.

Audrey, “Anxiety”

What is the theme behind your artworks?

My theme is social issues and in each artwork I wanted to portray or I wanted to showcase a sort of awareness to all the issues that are most relatable nowadays, especially to a young audience.

Where do you usually look for ideas or inspiration?

I think I mainly go on social media, because it’s the most relatable platform, and then I can get a lot of ideas from there.

What’s your favorite artwork?

Mmm…. I think it would be the “Anxiety” one. This was one of my first artworks [in Grade 11], and I had little to no experience with experimenting with acrylics and oils, so I stuck to something that was more familiar to me, because I did pencil. So I tried charcoal and I really like the effect because of how much you can smudge it and blend it out and it you can really manipulate the medium. And so I really like that artwork the most because it’s actually one of the artworks here that relates back to me, because I think that in society nowadays, students are put under a lot of pressure and it really leads up to us, like, having this anxiety, whether it be like, serious or not, all of us just have it.

How do you feel about the exhibit and all the work you did to get to this point?

I think that the exhibit is a really good way and a really good opportunity for us to really showcase the amount of effort that we put into the two years that we dedicated to IB and that it, like, really gives us so much room to express ourselves.

Carl, “Tradition, Honor, Passion”

What is the theme behind your artworks?

The theme behind my artworks is about my personal life, and I chose this theme because I wanted to express my feelings and what I like to do, such as my hobbies and my culture, through my artwork.

Do you have a process when you begin a new piece? Or do you tend to work spontaneously?

I have a process when I begin a new piece but throughout the process, I learn different ideas and sometimes I make mistakes and review them. To be honest, I sometimes don’t follow my process, and I just go with the flow and if it works well and fits the idea that I had then I’ll just go with it.

Where do you usually look for ideas or inspiration?  

I look for inspiration everywhere. And especially since it is about my personal life, then I look at my family, and for example how my little sister inspired me to go to school and also the struggles that I’ve been through. I use these as my inspiration for my artworks, and it’s also a way for me to express my feelings through my artwork.

What’s your personal favorite artwork?

My favorite artwork would be “Tradition, Honor, Passion.” So this artwork is about basketball.  I’m an athlete and I really like playing basketball and it relieves my stress whenever I play. The medium I used during this artwork was acrylic, and I decided to use acrylic because I felt confident about it and it was easier to mix colors, and as you can see in my artwork, there are a lot of colors in each form. The reason is that I wanted to show different emotions; even though when I’m sad I play basketball, and even when I’m stressed, happy, depressed. I really got inspired by showing basketball because it is a sport I love to play.

How does your work fit into the theme of Existentialism?

It fits the theme of Existentialism because as you can see through my work, it is all about my culture and I wanted to show people who I am as a person and I wanted to show them my culture and what I like to do.

How do you feel about the exhibit and all the work you did to get to this point?

I feel very proud because, at first, I was very hesitant with joining IB Art, but then, throughout the year of working, I got interested in it and found it really amazing. So I can say that I am really proud of my work and I’ve been through a lot of challenges that have developed me as a person and I have learned a lot of new things in life.

We’d like to thank the participants for lending us their time in doing each interview!

Written by Alya L., Dong Ha C., and Andrea C.

Feature image by Katrina R.



  1. Gwyn Underwood

    Very impressive artwork, students!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Dr. U

  2. Carrie Kohlmeier

    I was so impressed by the exhibit and all the hard work put in by the talented students! Thanks, Dragon’s Print, for featuring these students. It is always interesting to hear the words and thoughts behind the artists’ creations and processes.

Leave a Reply