12/07/2016

Jel Suarez keeps the good ol’ cut and paste alive


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The art world sort of exists in one ecosystem. Music can influence movies, movies can inspire art, and art can be taken to heart by different people and translated into another form of art. The creators behind these works also interact this way. Just look at the local creative scene. You’ll probably find your favorite moviemakers hanging out with a photographer you’ve been following for the longest time.

Getting inspiration is quite easy nowadays. Sure, Instagram is always at our disposal but feeding off of the energy of an artwork in the flesh does something to your soul. In an age when digital collages are getting easier to do, some artists like Jel Suarez keep the spirit of the good ol’ cut and paste alive. Her resource material often comes from printed pages and catalogues (like the ones she used in her recent show “Yet We Continue to Build There, The Structure”) and she transforms them into something unrecognizable from the original form but essentially, with a whole new meaning.

Jel’s body of work is unlike what we usually see online. A lot of artists experiment with vibrant colors and solid shapes, but the nature of her work is a good break from that. Her collages are a little more quiet and more subdued — kind of like that quiet afternoon siesta you like taking after school. But their form still evokes a certain authority in their structure.

This week, we caught up with Jel Suarez to talk more about her process and her tips to her 20-year-old self.

A few collages from Jel Suarez’s recent exhibit, “Yet We Continue to Build There, The Structure.” 

Did you have any fascination towards art when you were younger?

I guess i’ve always been interested in it. I remember being in love with my grade school art teacher and kung paano ako kinilig thinking that one day I can be like her — making a living by teaching and doing art everyday. Haha! She’s also probably why a huge part of me enjoyed teaching in pre-school after graduating from college. I loved how art was integrated in most of the activities, and how I was able to share the joy of making things with children. Everything just felt pure and carefree.

Access to resource images is easier nowadays with Google and Pinterest. How do you think doing collage is different from digital?

I think analogue and digital collages are alike in many ways. The challenge and overall process may be quite different, but I believe the approach and intention is the same. Working digitally allows an artist to use any image he can think of and manipulate it in every way possible, while analogue collage is working with what you can find or have on hand. The size, color, type of paper are all very crucial before even thinking what you can make out of them.

There seems to be a divide of the two, but I think many artists are doing a great blend of both techniques. Naturally, both techniques are bound to mix since collage is historically a medium that embraced technology.

One of the things I really like about your art is the color and structure of your collages. What’s your creative process? How did you get to choosing certain colors or the form of your work?

It helps to start with a new series of work when I already know what I’m looking for. It’s not easy to be at Booksale and not know what you want to find.

I’m always drawn to book images of classical paintings and sculptures. I think they possess certain details, colors, and structures that are familiar but powerful enough to create a new body.

What would you say to your 20-year-old self?

Never settle!


Catch more of Jel Suarez’s work on her Instagram. She’s part of an upcoming group show this Saturday, Dec. 10, at Underground Gallery. Visit their Facebook page for more details.

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