By Sara Grace C. Fojas
Portrait by Noel B. Pabalate
For Lance Valenzuela, change is like a flower blooming gradually—its beauty growing from within and slowly manifesting itself on the outside, for all the world to see.
In his sculpture Mimento Mori: Daddy Rolly, the Fine Arts student of Philippine Women’s University created a flower, with two faces inside, its hand as petals, supported by a knee. It was inspired by his grandfather who passed away a few years ago.
“He taught me a lot of things about life,” he shares. “He’s one of the people who support the things I do so I thought of making an artwork for him. It was during the time of his death, and the months after that, that a lot has changed in my life. I shifted to Fine Arts and decided to pursue my passion when he died.”
Before, Lance was an Architecture student, and then shifted to Psychology, Secondary Education, Interior Design, and now, finally to Fine Arts. Art, he believes, was always his passion, and when he finally decided to heed its calling, doors of opportunities opened up for him.
“I think my father, who’s an architect, influenced me to take up Fine Arts. I grew up in his workshop where I would create small things from his scrap materials. I would also always find myself drawing. The death of my grandfather was the time I really decided to shift to Fine Arts. I was not always the best but my grandpa never wouldn’t give up on me. Whatever I did, he was always there to support me. He knew that something would happen in my life,” he says.
The major life change that happened to him was what he used to create Mimento Mori: Daddy Rolly, which named after his grandfather, Rolly.
“The materials I used for the sculpture was concrete epoxy and rattan. I weaved the rattan to the epoxy itself. Each of the materials I used has a significant meaning for me. I grew up in Makati, a city boy, which represented the epoxy. When my grandfather died, I learned about my ancestral roots in Cordillera. That’s where the idea of rattan came from, a material that came from the people living simple lives in the mountains,” says Lance.
The sculpture has two faces and a hand, it’s like a flower blooming into the world with a human inside it. Its base is a knee to remind us to be always humble ourselves before God.
“It represents the change that happens within a person. It always starts inside and that change will manifest on the physical side afterward. Inside the flower is a changed person. The knee is your basic foundation as a character, your humbleness as a person. You still keep yourself humble and know that you’re not always the best, that there is always someone better than you. And you still have a lot to learn. The hand is the idea of doing things,” he says.
Lance’s sculpture is the winner of the 49th Shell National Students Art Competition. With the theme “Metamorphosis,” the contest challenged contestants to take up current issues and transform their artistic visions into creative realities.
“It’s funny because I have these predispositions that we don’t need competitions. I think that it’s formulated. This is my first time joining one. My mentors convinced me to push through with this, and it’s nice that I was able to win on my first try. I see my win in this competition as a responsibility to help in establishing the art scene and use my voice as a winner for something good that will benefit the people. It’s not something you want to abuse,” says 25-year-old Lance.