Visualizing the Intimate in Filipino/a Lives     Curated by Marissa Largo and Robert Diaz


The intimate, according to feminist scholar Anne Stoler, indexes relationships grounded in the “familiar and the essential” and relationships “grounded in sex” (Stoler, 2002).” Haunted by Stoler’s dual definition, this exhibit features the work of emerging Toronto-based professional artists and the work of artists from community-based organizations, as it visualizes the personal and political implications of “the intimate” for racialized and queer individuals. On a personal and communal level, “the intimate” can mark diasporic subjects’ contradictory relationship to migration, queerness, and dislocation. “The intimate” can also foreground how dominant narratives about race, gender, and sexuality affect the ways that minorities feel through and live through the everyday. Ultimately, by featuring diverse mediums of expression such as photography, video and sound installation, sculpture, and performance art, this exhibit pushes the boundaries of what “the intimate” can mean theoretically, while also linking such meanings to the embodied experiences of Filipinos/as in Canada.


Participating Artists: Julius Manapul, Jo SiMalaya Alcampo, The Magkaisa Centre, Maria Patricia Abuel, Loisel Wilson Onate, Blessie Maturan, Lexy Baluyot, Danelle Jane tran, Martie Hechanova, Tim Manalo, Nicole Cajucom, and Marissa Largo.



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Date: January 23 - February 15, 2015
Location: OCAD Open Gallery, 49 McCaul Street, Torontoan

Download the exhibition catalogue of Visualizing the Intimate in Filipino/a Lives here.

Featured Artists



Jo SiMalaya Alcampo is an interdisciplinary artist born in Manila and raised in Malvern in the heart of Scarborough. Jo currently lives in Toronto on traditional territories of the Huron-Wendat Nation, the Haudenosaunee ("People of the Longhouse"), the Anishinaabe, and the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation.

Jo's art practice integrates storytelling, installation-based art, and electroacoustic soundscapes. Jo has developed community arts projects with various groups including queer youth, consumer/survivors of the mental health system, and migrant domestic workers.  In 2010, Jo graduated from OCAD University with BFA Honours degree in Integrated Media. Advisors in OCADU's Indigenous Visual Culture Program inspired Jo to reconnect with her roots.

Marissa Largo is a PhD candidate in the Department of Social Justice Education at OISE, University of Toronto. She holds degrees in Visual Arts and Education from York University and has a Master's degree in Art Education from Concordia University.  Marissa's doctoral project, Renaissance as Resistance: Contemporary Filipino/a Canadian Visual Arts aims to explore the ways in which contemporary Filipino/a Canadian visual arts act as assertions of marginalized subjectivities in Canada. In 2013, she was awarded the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). As a Toronto-based artist and educator, her works have been presented in several group and solo exhibitions in Canada, such as Nuit Blanche (2011 and 2012), Maleta Stories (2013 and 2011), Public Realm (2010), Memory and Place (2009), and From the Pearl of the Orient to Uptown (2007). She also works with many progressive community and cultural groups dedicated to the integration and settlement of Filipinos in Canada.

Julius Manapul, who designed the cover art, was born in Manila, Philippines. He immigrated to Toronto in 1990, and graduated with a Fine Arts degree from Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU) in 2009.  Improving on his craft, he then attended the University of Toronto, and graduated with a Master of Visual Studies degree in 2013. Manapul’s work involves meticulous manipulation of sexualized images through techniques such as fusing and cutting. His work often reflects on the unattainable utopian narratives often produced through mainstream notions of queer happy endings and normalized queer life. Such a point of view is influenced by his own struggles and religious beliefs growing up as a gay young man who never quite saw the Philippines and Canada as welcoming spaces to call “home”.  

Featured Community Organizations



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The Magkaisa Centre is a Filipino community centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The organizations at the Magkaisa Centre include the Philippine Women Centre of Ontario (PWC-ON), Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance of Ontario/Ugnayan Ng Kabataang Pilipino Sa Canada (FCYA/UKPC-ON) and SIKLAB Ontario (Advance and Uphold the Struggle of Filipino Canadian Workers/Sulong Itaguyod Karapatan ng mga Manggagawang Pilipino sa Labas ng Bansa). Together, these groups strive for social transformation and social justice by calling for genuine Filipino settlement and integration in Canada. The Magkaisa Centre is a place not only for Filipino Canadians to gather, but more importantly, a place where marginalized members of our community can collectively continue the struggle to achieve equality, human rights and genuine development. 

Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture is a multiple award-winning, charitable community organization based in Toronto. This organization creates a safe space for Filipino-Canadian youth, both second generation and newcomers, to overcome multiple barriers that prevent them from meaningful engagement in society. At Kapisanan, youth activate their creativity to explore identity, fostering pride and self-confidence, inspiring and empowering them to realize their full potential.



Maria Patricia Abuel aims to create art focused on identity and culture that are based on her experiences as a Filipina-Canadian born and raised in Toronto. She hopes to communicate the struggles she faces as a young woman of colour who deals with the traditional views of her upbringing against the contemporary urban society of multicultural Toronto. Sexuality, gender, religion, and family are common themes in her art, mainly in the form of photography, new media, and performance art. She is currently studying Media Studies, Studio and Anthropology at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus and is an active member at the Kapisanan Filipino Centre of the Arts and Culture to expand her knowledge and skills and collaborate with other artists. Through her art, she hopes to communicate important messages of her Filipino-Canadian identity and culture, while learning and sharing with other cultures. 


Genre-­fluid (and gender-­fluid) Toronto­based art practitioner, Lexy Baluyot reflects her experiences through audial, visual, and performative mediums. She is somewhat a collector of disciplines; special effects make­up/prosthetics, dance, music production, and more. Lexy feeds this mild obsession by seeking education in anything that captivates her senses. This Canadian-­born Filipina­-Texan creates each piece with her heritage, western upbringing, and personal quirks intertwined. As a closeted gender­fluid pansexual in her religious Filipino family, Lexy has tried to outbalance her secret "sinfulness" by giving unconditional love and support to her parents with the hope that she will one day be accepted in the same regard. Her work often features hints of a hidden queer identity. Lexy is currently working as a denture lab technician. As her pieces suggest, she is heavily influenced by her interest in special effects prosthetics. She wishes to use her skills to fund her most serious artistic expedition: education and training to become an anaplastologist­ a medical maxillofacial prosthetist and technologist. Lexy hopes her artistic ability can be used to help people physically as well as emotionally.


Nicole Cajucom is an arts administrator, youth organizer, mentor and burgeoning artist. While and after completing her specialist in Art and Culture at the University of Toronto, Nicole volunteered heavily with various artistic hubs in Toronto (especially at the Art Gallery of Toronto as a School Programs Gallery Guide). Shortly after her internship at Kapisanan in 2012, Nicole had taken the opportunity to coordinate Clutch Vol. 5 after providing grant-writing support for the project, and since then, she has gone on to write successful grant applications and now oversees all programming at Kapisanan, also playing an instrumental role in the launch of Clutch’s brother program, Navigation, in 2014. The opportunity to create and collaborate with youth and culturally diverse communities has provoked her to reflect upon race, gender, connection, and untold histories through the arts. Nicole is also a veteran grant reviewer at ArtReach Toronto. Her roles have included providing a voice for the Filipino-Canadian community, encouraging collaboration, and recently, chairing assessments.


Martie Hechanova was born and raised in Iloilo City, Philippines. Before moving to Canada he attended at the West Visayas State University taking up Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He is currently an active volunteer of ACAS under its youth program QAY. Martie also contributed articles on its online magazine QI Magazine writing on its entertainment section focusing on the Asian entertainment industry. He is also a member of Rice Roll Production, an independent group of filmmakers in Toronto. Films are one interest Martie loves. Hes an avid Asian film fan and an active volunteer at the annual Reel Asian International Film Festival. He already produced and directed a short film called "Trapped" and was submitted to the Toronto Smartphone Film Festival. He is currently focusing himself into the world of fashion and photography. He wanted to fuse the two arts together and tell a story out of the products he created.  He is currently doing photography projects and producing films with his own independent group, the MRcreatives.


A Toronto resident since birth, Tim Manalo grew up in the Scarborough and North York area and has always had a strong interest for art and anything creative.  Always surrounded by Filipino families in the neighbourhood, he’s always had a sense of community and culture growing up.  In 2006, he attended OCAD University and majored in the Sculpture and Installation program and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Fine Art. Very skilled in the areas of sculpture and fabrication, Tim has worked as an in-house sculptor, mascot-maker and mould-maker for various companies specializing in outdoor art, costume and prop fabrication, and custom art and home decor fabrication. In addition, he is currently an active member of the Sculptor’s Society of Canada, regularly showing at their gallery and group shows. As an avid supporter of Toronto’s Filipino community and the arts, his current endeavor is as the coordinator of the upcoming second volume of NAVIGATION, an all male Filipino youth program hosted by Kapisanan Philippine Centre that provides mentorship and develops leadership skills to those wanting to explore their identity.


Blessie Maturan was born in Rizal, Philippines and immigrated to Toronto in 1999.  Her recent foray into the art world after a long break where she focused on working full-time and participating in a start- up has brought her back into her roots.  Her work explores situational narratives in new economic spaces, particularly those concerned with intimacy, heroism/survival, and labour which is often informed by experiences from growing up in both the Philppines and Canada. Blessie works predominantly with performance and designed objects but also includes works on paper and new media installations. She is currently pursuing her undergrad in OCADU after leaving U of T’s philosophy program. She has previously shown Kapisanan’s Clutch and Navigation Art Exhibit: Out Here, Pop Montreal, and currently in WhipperSnapper’s Sidewalk Screening.


Anna Loisel Wilson Oñate is a Philipine-born, Hong Kong-raised Canadian who speaks her native tongue, Illocano better than the national language Tagalog. She teaches English to foreign students to connect the world by helping different cultures speak to each other. Using these languages, she creates art through poetry, free writing and visual representations of her memories of the Philippines. She is inspired by people –- their complexities, virtues, vices and their motives. In her art, she explores issues of the dual nature of the Filipino-Canadian identity, Filipino superstitions and the role of the mother. Mainly she focuses on family dynamics and sacrifices taken from her personal struggles of being culturally uprooted and replanted. Currently, she is exploring audio as a medium and is recording conversations, stories and nature and city sounds. She is also capturing her grandmothers, and mother's life stories and writing their biography. Her studies in Psychology, English and Philosophy have inspired her to develop her career as a teacher and as an artist, in hopes to one day teach English using the arts. 


Danelle Jane Tran (DJ) is a Toronto based photographer. Sometimes it is difficult to express myself through words, which is why I went to art school to develop my visual expression. As a graduate from OCAD University, my main focus is lens-based media (pun intended). I express myself mainly through a lens because I find the human eye very fascinating. No one can share my perspective, and that is why I would like to share my experience with the world. In terms of my artwork, I love incorporating humour into my works (especially puns). I believe Art should be enjoyable; both the process and the final product. I also always find myself going back to the past and my dreams, which makes me a bit of an escapist. Reality is harsh for me, and to cope with that, I make artwork that makes me (and hopefully others) laugh.