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Ria Unson's portrait of a woman in her living room in Manila

Portrait of the artist as Filipino


digital paint and collage on canvas

36 x 48"

Inspired by a snapshot of my grandmother in the 1960’s in her living room in Manila, this canvas is framed with text from the souvenir book from the Philippine Exposition in the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. The narrative was created by World's Fair organizers to support the conquest of a far away land: “primitives,” “savages,” “dogeaters.” These descriptions—still commonly held ideas about Filipinos today—are juxtaposed with my experience of growing up in the Philippines.

The painting is titled after Nick Joaquin's short story.


Joaquin, Nick, The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic, Penguin Classics, 2017

Strobel, Leny Mendoza, Coming Full Circle: The Process of Decolonization Among Post-1965 Filipino Americans, Center for Babaylan Studies, 2016

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