Today, first wave Filipino American immigrant isolation has been replaced by hyper-connectivity. Skype and other technologies enable real time conversations in two countries. We step in and out of cultures as gracefully as the tinikling bamboo dance. What happens to our collective unconscious when the venue for the mandatory Sunday family outing changes from Catholic Church to Target? These are some of the questions I ask as I track changing values to tell a new story. My processes involve mining Philippine and Filipino American historical sources, social media, myths and puns for visuals that re-present contemporary multiculturalism, employing our trademark irreverent sense of humor.
Filipino foods are both my subject and medium. In the Color Palate series, cultural objects masquerade as minimalist objects. What from afar appears to be a simple color palette on closer inspection reveals itself to be Filipino ice cream—purple ube, green avocado, pink guava. These close-ups evoke extraterrestrial topographies, distant lands viewed through a telescope. As the telescope makes the distant closer, food invites and closes the gap between cultures. Like many of my works, this one is autobiographical: my Texan grandfather founded and sold what became later the largest ice cream brand in the Philippines, Magnolia.
In Stop and Smell The Tinapa I string up a single Philippine smoked fish with mint dental floss in a talismanic gesture to illustrate a popular myth. I aim to be part of the art practice of Radical Hospitality, a hallmark of Filipino culture. Inviting community participation is an important component of my process, and this piece invites the participation to smell the fish and ingest it without eating it.
For my senior exhibition at Mills College, I photographed hundreds Bay Area Filipino Americans to index skin color shades. I then scientifically averaged this hue, called “Kayumanggi,” and created a custom acrylic color through Golden Artists Colors Inc. I interrogate the semiotics of this color and its connotations of gender, class and race.
I am envious of African sculpture’s impact on modernism---how it endowed Western art with a new vocabulary and received in return the reappraisal of its ethnographic specimens as works of great art. I wonder if the same might not be done for Philippine culture. I aim to achieve in my art what fusion cuisine has done for palates—achieve a fusion aesthetic that is transcendent, true and tasty.
O.M. France (AKA France Viana) is a multimedia artist, working in photography, painting, collage, video and installation. Her artworks interrogate the semiotics of color, the inner experiences of meditation and mindfulness, and Filipino American identity as expressed through Radical Hospitality.
Currently an M.F.A. Studio Art candidate , she holds a B.A. in Art History from Mills College. Born in Manila, Philippines, she studied art in Switzerland and Spain before moving to California. She founded the Diviana Gallery, the first gallery entirely dedicated to fine art photography in Manila. In the Bay Area, she has exhibited at the San Francisco Art Institute, the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, Mills Museum, SOMArts and Embark Gallery and guest curated exhibitions at the Dominican University Gallery.
Active in the Asian American community, she is former board member of the Center for Asian American Media, current board member of Philippine International Aid and received a “100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the U.S.” award from the Filipina Women’s Network.
Embark Gallery, Humor Us, 2016
SOMArts, The Annual Murphy & Cadogan Contemporary Art Awards Exhibition, 2016
Mills Museum, Undergraduate Show, May 2015
Diego Rivera Gallery, SFAI, April 2014
Marin MOCA, Novato, CA Summer National Juried Exhibition, June 2012. Honorable Mention.
Guest curator, Dominican University, San Rafael, CA: Family Spaces: Stella Kalaw, 2014
Presenter, Sixth Annual Bay Area Undergraduate Art History Research Symposium, De Young Museum, 2015. Thesis: "Failed Exorcisms: Colonial Haunting in Filipino Self-Portraits from the Paulino Que Collection."
Gallerist, Diviana Gallery, Manila, Philippines 1990-1993
Research Assistant, Dr. Moira Roth, Mills College, 2015
Writer, Filipinas Magazine and Positively Filipino.
Edwin Anthony & Adalaine Boudreaux Cadogan Scholarships, 2016
Aurelia Henry Reinhardt Faculty Purse for Graduate Study; Mills College 2015
Grace Ty Searing Dhaemers Award for Art History, Mills College 2014
100 Most Influential Filipinas in the U.S., Filipina Women’s Network, 2011
Board Member, Philippine International Aid; Marketing Consultant, Asia Society of Northern California; Former Board Member, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), San Francisco International Film Festival