Bagay at Buhay: Objects and the Filipino Diaspora
Ana Mengote Baluca
Bagay at Buhay: Objects and the Filipino Diaspora is an exhibition of seemingly ordinary objects that helped define the culture and shaped the identities of Filipinos in the diaspora. It is a story of a journey of a group of people migrating from one lifestyle to another through the lens of the objects they carried, the objects they left behind, and the objects that stayed with them.
America is built on multiple cultures of the diaspora all suffering from an identity crisis in order to assimilate and be part of the ‘melting pot.’ This phenomenon is one that is shared by all members of any group of people in the diaspora. They share intangible artifacts that are left unnamed and therefore unrecognized. Mainstream storytelling of the cultural shock and identity crisis that members of diaspora experience overlook the day-to-day ordinary objects that shaped their behaviors and culture in the first place. Bagay at Buhay shines a light on these objects that helped shape behaviors and culture, by displaying them not in their utilitarian identity but rather their significance in how they reflected and affected how people lived then and how people live with their absence now.
About Ana Mengote Baluca:
Ana is a multidisciplinary designer that creates to explore the world. Her background in Industrial Design and Urban Studies puts her work at the intersection of community-building and creative problem-solving. Above everything else, her primary objective is to work on solutions that have the most potential in impacting our culture and society in a positive way. She aims to create work that provokes its audience to question the norms of our society. She is a proponent of using design as a medium to weave culture, history, and philosophies to create impactful products and solutions. Her design philosophies come from the power of being responsible to create culture through objects. As a generalist designer and artist, her work takes on a spectrum of forms. Her first exhibit in New York City was with Data Through Design in 2019 – a gallery during NYC’s data week. Before that, her products as an Industrial designer have been exhibited at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, Seattle Design Festival, and presented for the ASEAN Furniture Design Awards. She empowers and activates fellow designers and creatives to be an activist through her speaking engagements in the US and the Philippines.
She is currently one of the leaders of IDSA’s inaugural DEI council. She also serves as one of the co-chairs of the Publicity Committee of the Association of Filipino Scientists in America. She is experimenting and strategizing meaningful products as the founder and creative director of lowercase innovation. She is also helping ensure the future of design as an educator at the Pratt Institute.