Sep 162016

Artist O.M. France Viana inspects the immortalized fish in “Stop and Smell the Tinapa.” It is hung with mint dental floss in a talismanic gesture. J. ASTRA BRINKMAN

SAN FRANCISCO — An actual tinapa, a smoked Philippine fish, is on display at the Annual Murphy and Cadogan Contemporary Arts Award Exhibition at the SOMarts Cultural Center in San Francisco.

The fish is part of artist O.M. France Viana’s Stop and Smell the Tinapa, an installation that illustrates the well-known Philippine mythic story about a family so poor all they had to eat was rice, and so they hung a fish in the center of the table to smell as they ate. In the exhibit, the fish is hung with mint dental floss above a rice cooker.


Manjot Kochar and Alexandra Morehouse stop to smell the tinapa. CONTRIBUTED

The exhibition showcases works by the annual Murphy and Cadogan visual arts awardees–15 promising visual artists working from Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs throughout the San Francisco Bay Area whose works intersect with emerging trends.

O.M. France Viana, an MFA student at Mills College, used Filipino American foods as both subject and medium of her works and was chosen from among almost 100 applicants by a panel of judges including artist, writer and independent curator Kevin B. Chen; Dr. Lizzetta LeFalle-Collins, faculty member of the University of San Francisco; and Maria Ester Fernandez of the Triton Museum of Art, San Jose.


Curator Kevin Chen along with Tere Romo of the San Francisco Foundation and Maria Jensen of SOMarts congratulate Viana. CONTRIBUTED

France’s other pieces in the show include the Color Palate series, close up photographs of Filipino-flavored ice cream—ube, langka, guava, halo-halo— that from afar resemble extraterrestrial landscapes or the surface of moons. “As a telescope serves to bring the distant near, so food bridges the gap between cultures,” the artist explained.


Mills College Trustee Emerita Roselyne Chroman Swig and Viana in front of the Color Palette series of close ups of Filipino ice cream. CONTRIBUTED

Viana invokes the radical hospitality of her Filipino heritage as an aesthetic value and mines Philippine and Filipino American historical and cultural sources, social media, myths and puns to represent contemporary multiculturalism with irreverent humor.

The ice cream series is an autobiographical work: Viana’s Texan grandfather was one of the founders of Magnolia ice cream, later sold to the Sorianos of San Miguel Corp.

Administered by the San Francisco Foundation, the winners of the Cadogan Scholarships receive tuition scholarships and an exhibition to support their MFA studies. The exhibition was guest curated by Kevin B. Chen and runs from Sept. 1-24 at SOMarts at 934 Brannan St. San Francisco. An afternoon of free artist-led creative workshops including Viana’s Make Your Own Mythic Halo-Halo at the “Makers, Music & Mimosas” event will be held on Sept. 17. For more information on the awardees, exhibit and to register for the event, visit the SOMarts website.

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