Wild at ArtDirected by Kavery Kaul of Riverfilms Production for Asian Women United
Born in Batanes, Philippines in 1946, Pacita Abad was the daughter of a congressman, who had hoped that she would traverse a similar political path.Pacita’s trip across Asia to the Philippines through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Taiwan and Hong Kong drastically changed her life and career plans, as she decided to take up painting instead of law. Married to Garrity, whose work predisposed them to travel to numerous developing countries, her experiences in each place informed her subject matter from the beginning. Traditional art practices like ink-brush painting in Korea, paint brushing the Dominican Republic, batik making in Indonesia, tie-dye in Africa, mirrors in India, shells in Papua New Guinea, were all techniques she introduced either singly or several in one art work. In the late seventies and early eighties Pacita introduced a quilting method trapunto onto her canvasses, which were then layered with objects on top of her quilted material: stones, sequins, glass, buttons, shells, mirrors, printed textile. She referred to this technique, and the process of layering, stuffing, stitching and the collaging of objects on painted canvas as trapunto painting.Characterized by vibrant color and accumulated material, these large scale trapunto paintings traverse a diversity of subject matter: from tribal masks and social realist tableaus depicting the individuals and communities that Pacita encountered throughout her travels, to lush and intricately constructed underwater compositions and abstractions. She lived and travelled in a bewildering amount of countries - from Bangladesh to Sudan, Bangkok to Manila, Jakarta to Yemen, Washington D.C. to Singapore - and it is this itineracy that has defined and shaped her subject matter. Pacita's work brought together images and experiences across cultures, economies and histories and offered reflections on the global long before the discourses of globalization and transnationalism were felt in the art world.Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the National Museum, Jakarta, Indonesia; Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, The Museum of Philippine Art, Manila; Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila; Bhirasri Museum of Modern Art, Bangkok, Thailand; Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore; The National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; and the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Boston, among others. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including: Beyond the Border: Art by Recent Immigrant, Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; Asia/ America: Identities in Contemporary Asian American Art, a traveling exhibition organized by the Asia Society, New York; Olympiad of Art, National Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, Korea; 2nd Asian Art Show, Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan and La Bienal de Habana, Havana, Cuba. She died in Singapore in 2004.Pacita’s artwork is now in the collections of numerous international museums including: M+, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Korea National Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Singapore Art Museum, National Gallery Singapore, Bhirasri Museum, Indonesia Museum Nasional, Ayala Museum, Lopez Museum & Library, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, National Museum of the Philippines, Museum & National Art Gallery of the Northern Territory Australia, Jameel Art Center Dubai, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes Cuba, Museo de Arte Moderno Santo Domingo, Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and the Tate Modern.
Pacita's Global Travels
Pacita Abad is born on the 5th of October in Basco, Batanes, a remote island in the South China Sea, to Aurora Barsana Abad and Jorge Abad. She is the fifth of thirteen children.
Batanes is a small, strategically important island located along the international shipping lanes between Luzon and Taiwan. The Japanese invade Batanes in 1941 just hours after their attack on Pearl Harbor and remain there until the island’s liberation in 1945. Pacita’s father and family members are involved in the Philippine resistance. Her uncle is caught and publicly executed, and her father takes his family to hide out in a mountain cave, where Pacita’s elder brother is born and her eldest sister dies of pneumonia.
Shortly after the Philippines attains independence from the United States, Pacita's father, Jorge Abad, is elected as Congressman from Batanes, the smallest province in the Philippines. The family moves from Basco to Manila at the end of his first term.
She attends Legarda Elementary School and Ramon Magsaysay High School in Manila, but returns with the family to Batanes every two years for her father’s re-election campaigns. In 1962 her father is appointed Minister of Public Works and Communications by President Macapagal, and her mother becomes the Congresswoman representing Batanes.
Pacita enters the University of the Philippines (U.P.) with plans to follow in her parents' footsteps and enter politics. She graduates with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1968.
She begins her graduate law studies at U.P. and gets involved in her father’s Congressional re-election campaign. Pacita’s father becomes victim to election fraud financed by President Marcos. After organizing student demonstrations in Manila protesting the fraudulent elections in Batanes, and opposing the Marcos regime, her family is targeted and their home in Manila was sprayed with bullets by goons. Concerned about her safety and the increased political violence, her parents urge Pacita to leave Manila and finish her law degree in Madrid, Spain.
On the way to Europe she stops to visit a relative in San Francisco and then decides to study in America. While applying to schools she works two jobs, as a secretary during the day at the Dooley Foundation, providing medical and refugee assistance care in Laos, Cambodia and Nepal, and as a seamstress sewing and repairing clothes at night.
While waiting to attend law school she takes up a degree in Asian history at Lone Mountain College (now part of the University of San Francisco), where she writes her dissertation on “Emilio Aguinaldo and the 1898 American Colonization of the Philippines”. She also becomes actively involved in Asian American political and cultural activities in the Bay Area.
Pacita meets and is married briefly to painter George Kleiman. They live in an artist studio house in the Haight-Ashbury district, the center of the city’s counterculture ‘hippie’ community with streets filled with psychedelic rock music, drugs and free spirits. It is in this raucous environment that Kleiman introduces Pacita to painting and the San Francisco art scene.
After finishing her Asian history degree, Pacita is offered a full scholarship to attend Boalt Law School at the University of California, Berkeley.
A month later she attends a regional World Affairs Conference in Monterey, California where she meets Jack Garrity, a Stanford University graduate student from Boston. Shortly thereafter, she decides to defer law school for a year and travel across Asia with Garrity.
The couple spends 12 adventure-filled months hitchhiking overland from Turkey to the Philippines, passing through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Along the way, they encounter dissident filmmakers against the Shah in Tehran, Russian tanks entering Afghanistan through the Salang Tunnel, and Pashtun tribesmen shooting at their bus in the Khyber Pass. They stay at the Golden temple in Amritsar, hearing of the Sikhs hatred of Indira Gandhi and visit with nomadic Rabari tribesman in Rajasthan, Kuomintang opium villages in the Golden Triangle and Air America pilots in Laos.
On arrival in the Philippines four years after she left home, Pacita decides to explore her native country and for two months they travel by bus and boat throughout the Philippine islands, from the tribal mountain region in northern Luzon to the Moslem regions around Cotabato and Zamboanga in Mindanao. She is delighted to discover that the beauty and cultural heritage of the Philippines extends far beyond urban Manila and 300 years of Spanish colonial rule.
The overland trip across Asia and around the Philippines has a life changing impact on Pacita. In particular, she develops an artistic appreciation of Islamic, Hindu and Bhuddist cultures, and the incredible diversity of people and rich cultural traditions she encounters traveling across West, South and Southeast Asia. But most importantly, she becomes an avid admirer of traditional textiles, which she constantly collects, wears and incorporates in her artwork throughout her life.
Upon her return to California, she decides to forgo her law school scholarship and not pursue a career as an immigration lawyer; instead Pacita shocks her family and friends when she declares that she will become a painter. In the interim, in order to support themselves as Garrity finishes his studies, she works as a secretary at Stanford Medical School, and they cater food for family dinners on weekends. In turn, he will support her studies and artistic career going forward.
In the spring of 1975, they travel to Egypt and Greece, and then live in France for a couple of months, where they run out of money and are forced to work as house cleaners and English tutors in Paris. While in Paris, Pacita is caught by gendarmes in an illegal immigration raid and kept in jail overnight.
When Garrity gets a job they move to Washington, DC, where Pacita begins her first formal art training at the Corcoran School of Art. Her teachers were Berthold Schmutzhart and Blaine Larson. To help make ends meet she also works as a research assistant at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
At the end of 1976, she leaves for Guatemala for a month and starts painting churches, Mayan ruins and rural villages. In Panajachel, meets German painter, Georg Schafer, a mescaline mystic and is inspired by his Mayan murals embellished with colorful handwoven textiles. Before returning, Pacita gives her clothes away to native women and fills her suitcase with beautiful, handwoven huipil blouses and dresses bought from Mayan village markets.
She is introduced to artist neighbor Alma Thomas and visits her studio packed with paintings a few blocks down the street. A few months later Pacita has her first exhibition of 70 paintings at her 15th Street, Washington, DC studio.
Moving to New York City, she lives and works in a studio on 23rd Street next to the Chelsea Hotel. She attends classes at the Art Students League of New York and studies anatomy under Robert Beverly Hale, and still life and figurative painting with John Helicker. Pacita spends evenings drawing live models at the school’s studios. She visits galleries and museums and is drawn to the social realism paintings of Alice Neel and Ben Shahn.
She later moves to Dhaka, Bangladesh for a year where Garrity has a job as a transport economist. Pacita is the first foreign artist to live and work in in the recently independent country. She becomes involved with Shilpakala Academy of Arts and is inspired by the powerful paintings of Zainul Abedin. Later she is introduced to the paintings of another famous Bengali painter, Rabindranath Tagore, and visits his museum in Calcutta.
Pacita travels extensively throughout the riverine country by boat, car, bus and rickshaw painting landscapes and people in the cities and villages. At the end of the year she meets journalists near the Teknaf Refugee Camp and is shocked to hear about the plight of the Rohingya refugees fleeing from Burma. She also travels to Nepal and visits a Tibetan refugee camp, where she is intrigued with the painted and appliquéd Bhuddhist thangka paintings, which could be rolled and carried by the monks.
Her father passes away unexpectedly and she returns to Manila distraught that he never saw her artistic work. On her return to Dhaka she holds an exhibition of her paintings at her Dhanmandi Studio. Three months later she shows her Bangladesh paintings at the Manila Garden Hotel, which is her first exhibition in the Philippines.
Her travels bring her to Sudan for three months where she works on paintings about the Dervishes of Omdurman and stays in Wau, where she paints the Nilotic people of southern Sudan. Pacita then holds an exhibition of her 'Paintings of Sudan' in Khartoum, and a few months later at the Oriental Hotel when she relocates to Bangkok.
In Thailand she initially paints scenes of temples and markets, but soon began traveling with international aid groups assisting the Cambodian refugees camped along the Thai border. She goes into the camps and meets, sketches and paints portraits of the refugees who were fleeing Pol Pot’s brutal regime.
Meets with Alice Neel and son Hartley in Bangkok during a USIA traveling program, and invites them to see her Cambodian refugee paintings.
Pacita holds an exhibition entitled 'Portraits of Kampuchea' at the Bhirasri Institute of Art in Bangkok before returning to Africa to paint in northern Kenya and southern Sudan for three months.
She and Garrity move to Boston and for the next two years live in a large, unheated loft near Beacon Hill. Working at the Art Institute of Boston she produces her first prints and lithographs. She exhibits “The People of Wau” at The New England Center of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn, CT.
Meets in Boston with the exiled Aquino family who are friends and anti-Marcos, political colleagues of the Abad family in the Philippines.
With encouragement from a doll making friend she begins to experiment with stitching and stuffing her painted canvas to give them a quilted, three-dimensional effect. Pacita’s new trapunto technique allows her to move off the easel, greatly expanding the size of her canvases and giving them an unrestrained sense of freedom. She begins to draw on the stitched textile inspirations she encountered during her travels in Asia and Africa and incorporates them into her trapunto paintings.
Receives a three-month artist residency at Altos de Chavon in the Dominican Republic and exhibits portraits of working people in her “Streets of Santo Domingo”. Crosses the border to Haiti and is attracted to its Afro-Caribbean cultural traditions, particularly the sequin–covered Drapo voudou flags.
Returning to Boston she has solo exhibitions at the: Boston University Art Gallery (‘Refugees of Cambodia’), Boston, MA; Manchester Institute of Arts and Sciences (Portraits of Kampuchea), Manchester, NH; and Augusta Savage Gallery at University of Massachusetts (Bangladesh Paintings), Amherst, MA.
Holds solo exhibition of ‘Scenes from the Upper Nile’ at the Museum of the National Center of African-American Artists, Boston, MA, and ‘Streets of Santo Domingo’ at the Walters Art Gallery at Regis College, Weston, MA.; and ‘Faces’ a group exhibition at the Clark Gallery, Lincoln, MA.
After a twelve-year absence, Pacita returns to live in Manila for the next four years while Garrity works for the Asian Development Bank, overseeing development projects in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Korea.
She joins him during his travels and makes two long trips that would make lasting impressions on her work. After travelling by herself through the highlands of Papua New Guinea, she begins a series of 15 paintings based on the tribes in Goroka, Lae, Mount Hagen and Madang that combine her trapunto technique with local cowrie shells, bones, feathers and colors extracted from vegetable dye. In Indonesia, she becomes fascinated by the wayangs, the traditional shadow puppets.
Enraged by the Aquino airport assassination, the artist retreats to her Manila studio after the murder and immediately paints 'The Death of Ninoy', which she exhibits in a group show at the Pinaglabanan Gallery in Manila. The work hung in her studio throughout her stay in the Philippines. Later during a trip to Sri Lanka she creates a 17’ high, trapunto painting based on a Singhalese Sanni exorcism devil mask that she created to satirize the corrupt “Marcos and his Cronies.
She holds a solo exhibition entitled 'A Painter Looks at the World' at the Museum of Philippine Art curated by Arturo Luz. The exhibition includes 120 paintings from her first eight years of traveling and painting in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
She receives the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award for the most outstanding young artist in the Philippines - controversially the first woman ever to receive the prize.
Pacita is selected by curator Rod Paras Perez to participate in both the ‘Association of Southeast Asian Countries’, a traveling exhibition to museums in Southeast Asian countries, as well as ‘Three Faces in Philippine Art’ exhibited at the BMW Gallery in Munich, Germany. She also shows at the ‘Annual Exhibition of Visual Artists’, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila, and the Sino-Filipino Contemporary Art, Asia World Hotel, Taipei, Taiwan.
Hosts Austrian painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser at her studio during his visit to Manila.
On a flight from Manila to San Francisco Pacita is stopped in Hawaii and handcuffed by Immigration officials. She is detained overnight in Oakland and finally released after being misidentified and falsely accused by U.S. authorities.
Pacita travels to Seoul, Korea to learn ink brush painting. This leads to a series of abstract trapunto paintings entitled ‘Oriental Abstractions' based on rice stalk patterns. She shows these works in a solo exhibition at the Luz Gallery in Manila.
She is invited to Japan to participate in the ‘2nd Asian Art Show‘ at the Fukuoka Art Museum where she exhibits a trapunto painting entitled 'Santa Mesa Walls.' Participates in: ‘Three Faces in Philippine Art’, curated by Rod Paras Perez, exhibited at the BMW Gallery in Munich, Germany; the 3rd Asian Art Biennale in Bangladesh; ‘A Tribute to Ray Albano’, Finale Art File, Makati, Philippines; ‘Recent Figuration’, Pinaglabanan Gallery, San Juan, Philippines; 10th Annual CCP Exhibition of Visual Artists, Cultural Center of the Philippines; ‘Ugat-Sari’, Asian Institute of Art, Manila, Philippines; Sino-Filipino Modern Art Exhibit, Asiaworld Hotel, Taipei, Taiwan; and First International Print Biennial, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan.
In Manila, she mounts two solo exhibitions: 'Scenes from Batanes’ at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, curated by Ray Albano and 'Pacita and her Friends' at the Luz Gallery.
Exhibits 'Assaulting the Deep Sea', an immersive installation at the Ayala Museum featuring large-scale trapunto paintings of underwater scenes around the Philippine islands. An avid scuba diver, she wears her scuba gear and fins to the exhibition.
Pacita returns to Washington, DC with Garrity who starts working for the World Bank.
She is invited to exhibit at the Segunda Bienal de la Habana. The Bienal was intended to place Havana at the center of the Third World map by bringing work together of nearly 700 artists from 56 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It was, arguably, the first world-wide exhibition of contemporary art, a claim that would be made by the exhibition 'Magiciens de La Terre' three years later. She follows this with trips to Mexico exposing her to the works of Diego Rivera, Jose Orozco, Francisco Zuniga, David Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo and Frida Kahlo.
Participates in ‘UNESCO: 40 Years, 40 Countries, 40 Artists’ a traveling exhibition curated by Andre Parinaud, as well as the ‘Seoul Contemporary Asian Art Show’, Seoul, Korea.
She holds a solo show of her abstract trapunto paintings entitled 'Oriental Abstractions' at the Hong Kong Arts Centre curated by Michael Chen.
She has solo shows of ‘Paper Collages’ at Foxley Leach Gallery, and ‘Canvas Collages’ at the IMF Atrium, Washington, DC, as well as her ‘Underwater Paradise’, Philippine Center, New York, NY.
Pacita is selected to join ‘The International Art Show for the End of World Hunger’ organized by Ana Cristina Bozzo, a four-year traveling exhibition to museums in 18 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Becomes friends with neighborhood artist Loïs Mailou Jones and shares stories of traveling and painting in Paris, Africa and Haiti.
Pacita’s underwater trapunto painting, “Puerto Galera II”, selected to be on the back cover of Readers Digest.
Holds a solo exhibition of her ‘Trapunto Paintings and Works on Paper’ at the Fables Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and ‘Oriental Collages by Pacita Abad’ at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library, Washington, DC.
She is selected by curator Andre Parinaud to participate in ‘Art for Africa”, a traveling exhibition to six European museums. Her work is also included in: the ‘Tercera Bienal de la Habana’ in Havana, Cuba; ‘As ian Abstractions’, Boston City Hall, MA; ‘Tres Filipinas – Three Filipino Women Artists’, Summer School Museum and Archives, Washington, DC; and ‘Crossroads’, Washington, DC.
In conjunction with the 1988 Summer Olympics held in Seoul, Pacita is selected as one of the 100 international painters to exhibit at the 'Olympiad of Art' at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea. She travels to Seoul and exhibits her trapunto painting ”Trapo”.
Teaches courses on ‘Trapunto Painting-Canvas Collage’ and ‘Art To Wear’ at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
Meets with Joan Mitchell in Washington, DC during the artist’s exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Visits fellow Filipino-American painter Alfonso Ossorio, spending time at 'The Creeks', his studio mansion in East Hampton.
She exhibits ‘Trapunto Paintings’ at the Franz Bader Gallery in Washington, DC.
Receives an Individual Visual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
Participates in ‘Day of the Dead’ curated by Geno Rodriguez at the Alternative Museum, New York, NY; ‘Trapunto Paintings’, Martin Luther King Memorial Library, Washington, DC; and ‘Asian Pacific American Images’, District Building, Washington, DC.
Receives a New York State Council on the Arts Award to teach a trapunto painting workshop at Amauan in New York, NY and creates costumes for the play, Lola Ita, Applecore Theater.
Her work is included in the ‘Tercera Bienal de la Habana’ in Havana, Cuba along with 300 artists from 41 countries.
Pacita wins the Metro Art Award and installs a 50-foot mural entitled 'Masks from Six Continents' at the Metro Center subway station in Washington, DC, which remains on display for two years.
Receives the first of three Art Residency at the Rutgers Center for Creative Arts during which she creates three lithographs, one woodcut and one pulp paper artwork.
Exhibits ‘Asian and African Masks’, World Bank Gallery, Washington, DC; ‘Recent Paintings by Pacita Abad’ Philippine Center, New York , NY; ‘Trapunto Paintings’, JC Penny (4 locations), Virginia/Maryland; and ‘Trapunto Paintings’, Starfields of Astraea, Washington, DC.
Participates in ‘Homeless’ curated by Geno Rodriguez at the Alternative Museum, New York, NY.; ‘At the Crosshairs: Washington Artists in Perspective’, Women’s Caucus for Art, Westbeth Gallery, New York, NY; ‘Creative Threads: Selected Works by Four Washington Artists’, Mayor’s Mini Art Gallery, Washington, DC; Images ’90 – Asian Pacific Americans in the Visual Arts’ curated by Hiro and Harriet Lesser, The Charles Sumner School and Archives, Washington, DC; “Images of the Dance’. Martin Luther king Memorial Library, Washington, DC; and ‘The Race: Do We Get There at the Same Time?’, curated by Geno Rodriguez, School 33 Art Center, Baltimore, MD.
Pacita is devastated by the loss of her mother, who was Pacita’s role model as a woman with only a ninth grade education from a remote island, married at 16, raised 13 children, supported her husband’s countless political campaigns, sewed and crocheted all the family clothes and furnishings, fed and housed numerous students and visitors in her home, and represented the Province of Batanes as both Congresswoman and Governor. Her death was a traumatic loss to Pacita.
Begins the first of two artist residencies at Pyramid Atlantic in Maryland, where she creates prints and paper pulp pieces. Holds solo exhibitions ‘Wild at Art’ at the Ayala Museum, and Luz Gallery, Makati, Philippines, and ‘Asian Art’, Strathmore Art Center, Bethesda, MD.
Selected to join ‘Nine Paths to a Journey: The Immigrant Experience’’ curated by Mel Watkin, Ellipse Gallery, Arlington, Virginia. Joins ‘Fiber: The State of the Art’ curated by Rebecca Stevens at the Meyerhoff Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland.
A solo exhibition of her large scale trapunto paintings, entitled 'Abstract Emotions', is shown at the Philippine Center in New York City and ‘Trapunto Paintings by Pacita Abad’ , G Street Fabric, Rockville, MD.
Included in ‘Crossing Over/Changing Places’, curated by Jane Farmer, a USIA traveling exhibition to five museums in the U.S. and Europe. Participates in ‘Washington Project for the Arts at the Hemicycle’ at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Creates costumes for Pacific Bridge Theater play ‘Long After Love’, Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
Holds a solo exhibition of ‘Flower Paintings’ at the Philippine Center in New York City. Joins with artists Hung Liu, Amelia Mes-Bains, Howardena Pindell and Joyce Scott for ‘Women’s Spirit’ exhibition at Bomani Gallery, San Francisco, California.
She takes part in the group exhibition 'Asia/America: Identities in Contemporary Asian American Art', curated by Margo Machida and organized by Vishaka Desai of the Asia Society. The exhibition tours the United States until 1996, travelling to Tacoma Art Museum in Washington, DC, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Honolulu Academy of Fine Arts in Hawaii, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, MIT List Visual Arts Center in Massachusetts and the Blaffer Gallery at the University of Houston in Texas.
Selected to join “Beyond the Border: Art by Recent Immigrants’ curated by Betti Sue Hertz, Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, NY. Participates in ‘TOUCH, Beyond the Visual’ curated by Angela Adams and Paula Owen, a traveling exhibition to four museums in Virginia and North Carolina.
Selected as Resident Artist at OPUS B Alzheimer’s Art Therapy Program conducting painting workshops for elderly Alzheimer patients in Maryland nursing homes.
She moves to Jakarta where Garrity starts working for the Indonesian conglomerate Gajah Tunggal. Meanwhile, she travels throughout the country and continues working on her series based on traditional Indonesian wayang puppetry, incorporating batik and ikat elements in her paintings. Over the next fifteen years, she would create 110 wayang paintings, as well as a limited edition, hand-painted porcelain dinnerware set.
Holds a solo exhibition at the National Museum in Jakarta entitled ‘Wayang, Irian and Sumba'.
Exhibits ‘Assaulting the Deep Sea’ curated by Mark Scala at the Art Museum of Western Virginia, which travels to the Peninsula Fine Arts Center, curated by Deborah McLeod in Newport News, Virginia.
Receiving a fellowship from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Pacita begins work on 'Immigrant Experience', a series of paintings that combine the social realist inclinations of her earlier work with the trapunto technique that she developed. She later presents these paintings in an exhibition entitled 'The American Dream', curated by Angela Adams at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. The exhibition later travels to the Peninsula Fine Arts Center, Newport News, Virginia.
Pacita holds a joint exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila entitled 'Thinking Big' with Paz Abad Santos, curated by Cora Alvina, showing her large trapunto paintings. The exhibition includes a 20-foot high painting called "Marcos and His Cronies" a.k.a. "The Medicine Man" which depicts Marcos surrounded by 18 diseased masks, representing his various corrupt cabinet members, and his wife Imelda Marcos, studded with costume jewelry.
She also has simultaneous solo exhibitions in Manila entitled "Postcards from the Edge" at Galleria Duemila and "Twenty-four Flowers" at Liongoren Art Gallery.
Pacita also participates in a number of group exhibitions including: ‘disOriented: Shifting identities of Asian Women in America’, curated by Margo Machida at the Steinbaum Krauss Gallery and Abrams Art Center, New York, NY; ‘Looking at Ourselves: The American Portrait’ curated by Laura Vookles, Hudson River Museum, New York; ‘Defining Ourselves’ curated by Anna Fariello, Radford Univeristy Galleries, Radford, Virginia; ‘Ako, Filipino Self Portraits’ curated by Cora Alvina, Metropolitan Museum of Manila; and ‘Contemporary Art of the Non-Aligned Countries”, National Gallery of Indonesia, curated by Sheikh Sabapathy and Jim Supangkat.
Receives an ‘Excellence 2000 Award for the Arts’ given by the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce, Washington, DC.
Has a solo exhibition, ‘Exploring the Spirit’ at the National Gallery of Indonesia.
Participates in the: ‘National Craft Acquisition Award’ exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territories, Darwin Australia; ‘7th International Biennal Print and Drawing Exhibit’, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan; and ‘Memories of Overdevelopment: Philippine Diaspora in Contemporary Visual Art’, a traveling exhibition to three museums and galleries in the U.S. and Canada, curated by Yong Soon Min and Alan de Souza.
Selected to participate in U.S. State Department’s Art in Embassies Program’ and during Pacita’s career 6 of her paintings were hung in U.S. Embassies in Asia and Africa.
Included in a number of group exhibitions in Asia and America: ‘Filipina Artists Abroad’, Metropolitan Museum, Manila; ‘Book Art IV’ Luz Gallery, Makati, Philippines; ‘World Batik Exhibition’, Ardiyanto Gallery, Jogjakarta, Indonesia; ‘Talk Back! The Community Responds to the Permanent Collection’, Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, NY; and ‘8th International Biennal Print and Drawing Exhibit’, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan.
Pacita’s second exhibition at the National Museum in Jakarta presents paintings from her series, 'Abstract Emotions'. One work is entitled 'The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling', was painted when over a six-month period the value of the Indonesian rupiah falls from 2,000 to 15,000 to a U.S. dollar. As riots break out in the city and the Suharto regime collapses, she stays in Jakarta making sketches of the makeshift barricades and the burnt out Chinese shops and banks in the city.
Pacita is selected to participate in ‘Bayan’, a centennial celebration of Philippine independence, curated by Cora Alvina, where she shows a large, mixed-media, textile wall hanging titled “100 Years of Freedom: from Batanes to Jolo” at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines.
Shows her small “Abstract Emotions” artworks at the Hiraya Gallery in Manila and then is selected to join ‘At Home and Abroad” a traveling exhibition to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, Texas and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. She also participates in ‘The Gallery Artists, Part 2’, Brix Gallery, Manila and ‘Woman’, at the Institute of Contemporary Art (P.S.1), New York, NY.
Pacita holds four ‘Door to Life” exhibits of her recent paintings inspired by her stay in Yemen. These are shown at: Artfolio Gallery, Singapore; Luz Gallery, Manila; Bomani Gallery, San Francisco; and Gibson Creative, Washington, DC.
She is selected for: ‘Women Beyond Borders’ a traveling exhibit to seven museums and galleries in the U.S., Australia, Japan and Vietnam, organized by Lorraine Serena; ‘Global Woman Project’, a traveling exhibit in the U.S.; ‘ Histories(Re)membered: Selections from the Permanent Collection’, Paine Weber Art Gallery, New York, NY; V’spartio (Very Special Arts)’ Artfolio, Singapore and Osaka, Japan; ‘Handmade: Shifting Paradigms’, curated by Tay Swee Lin, Singapore Museum.
She also creates costumes for the play, “Luna: comic drama and art to wear”, directed by Gilda Cordero Fernando, Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Pacita moves to Singapore after seven years in Jakarta. She begins the millennium by spending six weeks in Rajasthan, India, returning to her studio to work on her "Sky is the Limit" series, her homage to India.
Participates in ARTSingapore 2000, First Contemporary Southeast Asian Festival, MITA, Singapore. She also receives the Pamana ng Pilipino award in Manila for outstanding achievement in the arts.
A few months later, at the Koi Gallery in Jakarta, she launches her 144-piece "Wayang Dinnerware Collection" that she designed, painted and made in collaboration with James de Rave of Kedaung, an Indonesian ceramic manufacturer.
Pacita holds four “The Sky is the Limit” exhibits of her recent paintings inspired by the colors of Rajasthan at: Artfolio Gallery, Singapore; Finale Art Gallery and SM Art Center, Manila; Pulitzer Art Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Gallery Stockgard, Siuntio, Finland.
She also participates in ‘Brown Strokes on a White Canvas’, World Bank Gallery and Foundry Gallery, Washington, DC and ‘The Studio Portrait, A collaborative project by Carol Sun’, Bronx Museum, New York, NY.
She becomes a Visiting Glass Painting Artist at Lindshammar Glassworks, Lindshammar, Sweden and creates a series of 80 unique, hand painted glass pieces.
On the way to Texas to start her Artist in Residence at the Southwest School of Arts and Craft in San Antonio, Pacita stops in New York to visit Ground Zero two weeks after 9/11. She is so overwhelmed that she decides to create three commemorative murals as part of the “9/11 Phoenix Project” in collaboration with the 30 local women artists in her trapunto workshop.
Following her residency in Texas she holds a solo exhibition, “Palay”, at Montclair State University Galleries in New Jersey. After her Montclair exhibition, she is shocked to discover in Washington, DC that she has advanced lung cancer and is immediately operated on at George Washington Hospital just before Christmas.
Pacita returns to Singapore in a wheelchair and undergoes chemotherapy and radiotherapy at National University Hospital. While undergoing the treatments she begins works on a new series of large trapunto paintings, which she calls “Endless Blues”. Because of her physical condition this would be her last series of very large paintings. She exhibits these paintings in Singapore at the end of the year at Artfolio, soon after she opened her solo exhibition 'The Sky is the Limit', at the Esplanade in Singapore.
Although her travel was limited by the doctors, she participated in group exhibitions including: ‘Sino-Filipino Contemporary Art’, Asia World Hotel, Taipei, Taiwan; ‘Spirited Faces; Painting in the Woman’, Gallery Belvedere, Singapore; and ‘Singapore Art Fair 2002”, Suntec City, Singapore.
Pacita becomes the first female artist selected for a three-month residency at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI), where she creates “Circles in My Mind”, a series of 56 mixed media paper works incorporating lithography, relief and screen printing and hand-colored paper pulp. While at STPI, she conceives of the idea to paint the nearby 55 meter-long Alkaff Bridge spanning the Singapore River.
She then travels to Europe where she exhibits her “Endless Blues” paintings at the Hadeland Museum in Norway, and at Galleri Stockgard in Finland. Pacita then receives an art residency at the Centre d’Art Marnay Art Contemporaire in France, where she creates her painted bridge designs.
She travels to Seoul, Korea to participate in ‘The Third Asia Women Art Exhibition’ and the ‘Seoul International Women’s Art Fair’. Her paintings are also included in ‘Brown Strokes on a White Canvas, 2003’ and ‘Philippine Exhibit’ group exhibitions in Washington, DC.
Pacita returns to Singapore late in the year for her solo print exhibition at STPI, and is delighted to hear that her proposal to paint the bridge is finally approved by the Singapore government. Unfortunately, she also finds out that her cancer has spread to her brain and spinal canal. Despite the devastating news she goes to Jakarta for the launch of her hand painted, limited edition porcelain Batik Dinnerware Collection.
Although she has to undergo daily radiotherapy treatment, Pacita organizes and oversees the painting of the Alkaff Bridge. For the next month after finishing radiotherapy sessions in the morning, she goes directly to the Bridge to work with her painting team. When completed, Pacita has covered the Bridge with 55 colors and 2,350 playful circles. The Singapore ArtBridge was finally inaugurated on the 29th of January as Pacita's gift to the people of Singapore.
She has an exhibition of her “Circles in My Mind” paintings at the Andrew Shire Gallery in Los Angeles, California, and participates in a number of group shows including: ‘SingArt – A Brush With Lions’, Raffles Hotel, Singapore; ‘Global Entropolis’ Suntec City, Singapore; ‘Crossings: Philippine Works from the Singapore Art Museum’, Ayala Museum, Manila, Philippines; and ‘TOYM Art Exhibit”, Manila, Philippines.
Pacita is selected as Artist in Residence at the Genome Institute of Singapore and her work is exhibited at the ‘Genomic Medicine and Population Health’ international conference.
Though confined to a wheelchair and against doctor’s wishes, Pacita is determined to travel to the Philippines in September to open her 70-painting exhibition, 'Circles in My Mind', at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. It was the last exhibition of her illustrious 32-year career.
Despite her deteriorating condition, immediately after her opening Pacita returns to her beloved island of Batanes to finish her last paintings at her newly built studio, “Fundacion Pacita”. However, her health rapidly worsens and forces her to return to the hospital in Singapore. On the 7th of December, a few months after her 58th birthday, Pacita Abad passes away after a three-year battle with cancer.
After a lifetime of traveling the world, Pacita was finally laid to rest next to her studio/home, ‘Fundacion Pacita’, overlooking the South China Sea on her native island of Batanes.