Michael Arcega's Artworks

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Manila born Philippines artist, Michael Arcega has his art capturing interdisciplinarily installation and sculpture and it revolves primarily around geography, history, and language. He migrated with his parents to the United States at the age of ten.
In his recent works, he adopted techniques applied in analysis of Cultural Anthropology which is referred to as "otherness", pointing out that this " other" is represented in North American, whose rituals, symbols and culture must be studied and understood ( Arcega).
His works have a playful characteristic notwithstanding his stance as a sociopolitical critique providing many ways of thinking about folks who conquer the landscape. This work analyses Michael Arcega as a creative artist who utilizes history as his medium. The works to be evaluated here include Manila Galleon Trade: the past describes the present, Conquistadourkes, Spams/maps. The first work Spam/Maps reveals shreds of luncheon meat spread all over in the form of Oceania and world map. Then, Conquistadourkes portrays Manila files utilized as shields for the conquistador figures. The third picture Manila Galleon Trade advances a Manila galleon; the El Conquistadork presented and used to cruise along the Tomales Bay. Arcega postulates that “history tends to keep recurring, so I look forward to keeping mining history for information and try applying it to the current situations.” (Arcega). Arcega shares his inspirational journey of creating art through old historical episodes.
In his work, Michael Arcega tries to share a message with the audience on Filipino history by assimilating it in current events in his art. The message successfully reaches the audience as the collections of the compositions carry a lot of knowledge and antiquity from the spectators. These artistic works successfully capture the attention of the public because it is detailed and portrays history whereby socio-political concerns and imperialism are well articulated. The spam/maps art, the portions of meat are well described into states, convey the significance of this type of meat to the Pacific Island people because of its portability and ease of cooking and most importantly its ability to make people obese (Arcega). These reasons are the motivations behind Arcega’s art to communicate to the people; that the past mistakes should influence the future positively and not adversely if we cut down on junk. Besides, the drawing of Oceania and the world map have different colorings where one is darker depicting that the meat is either overheated or cooked, while the other is lighter implying that the meat is raw. The piece utilizes spam’s cast of shadow to suggest a more realistic creative work. This study symbolizes to its audience that America has gone through tremendous changes Arcega).
The other piece of art is the Conquistadourkes on the armor suits exclusively made of Manila folders imitating the old legendary conquistadors who dressed in this armor in war. Arcega pointed out in the KQED paper that, “I utilize manila folders to advance trade and business information and colonialism.” (Arcega). Symbolically, Arcega used Manila to scheme his artistic work reflecting colonialism, trade, and business because in the contemporary times' merchants running influential business controls the world. As the art depicts, “Arcega stresses on power structures which motivated the 16th- 20th Spanish and European rule in the Philippines.” (Arcega). Further, Arcega hopes that the society will comprehend his art and why it is coming at this time. Furthermore, he uses this kind of ancient history because the past events associated with this generation repeatedly happen. Also, “the paper armor displays the fragility and economic implications of the conventional materials.” (Arcega). Arcega uses manila folders in composing his artistic work to advance and emphasize the weak military strength of the olden days but with immense influence in business. The tone in conquistador is simple but outstandingly built as the manila folders utilize bright cream colors. The signs in the middle of the armor a lion, a bear, the sun, a griffin which the drawer fashioned into the Manila as a strategy of distinguishing the conquistadors given more importance in his work. The design and structure of this job are fantastic because of the arrangement and details in work revealing how any material can result in high art if creatively used. Further, it educates people in these days how difficult it could be walking or moving in armored attire (Arcega).
The Manila Galleon Trade is the third creative work of Michael Arcega. The El Conquistadork represents Manila folders which made the ship the same way as the Manila armor and suits he created. As noted, “The boat’s compact construction is Arcega’s thorough method of handling his work.” (Arcega). This depicts the state of the art construction of the vessel; the ship is a reflection of the effort and lots of time the artist sacrifices to produce meticulous outcomes. Early people say that Arcega used his ship to make his first journey to Tomales Bay postulating how great he was talented putting into account the quality and type of material used. Further, it's incredible that there were no leaks as he sailed through. Additionally, his wordplay or creative use of words like Manila Galleon and manila folders which resemble Manila in the Philippines city on intention to make the audience understand the historical issues and events which happen in the Philippines. The tone on the El Consquistadork reveals that it is identical to conquistador suits on the simple color basis and type of materials used in its construct it. Besides, it is apparent that the two are similar in tone because the armor suits depict weaknesses in military power, but compelling in trade implying that there was a shortage of authority, but had strengths in a business where ships were necessary. The imagery use of ship is profound in communicating robustly, thus demonstrating the importance of the sea vessel.

Figure 1

michael arcegas artworks
Source: https://medium.com/@FilAmLit/anna-ye-on-michael-arcega-cd631a8a5ebb

Understanding Michael Arcega’s works need own analysis while accepting the knowledge they are passing across. On reflection, one is left bewildered the motive of creating such master class pieces of art based on historical events. However, a critical analysis opens that the drive behind Arcega’s work is conveying to people the significance of history to avoid repeating itself and his work gives the solutions to the question: why history repeats itself? Wordplay and figurative language are predominant in his work, for instance, spams spelled backward as maps and conquistadors with dork at the end. Arcega’s use of figurative language aims at effectiveness, influence and persuasive to the audience. Arcega’s work is influential to all people interested in the arts, in particular through its perfection (Machida 9). The great pieces especially the El Conquistadork and suits of armor are a great fascination and commendable; the use of Manila folders makes his creativity unique and superior. As a fan of Michael Arcega’s art, I can recommend this artistic works because their symbolism educates people the past in the present; a good way of enlightening people that mistakes can be corrected and applied in the present and future if accurate judgments are made. Also, people intrigued with art should take a look at this work; however, it is not art enthusiasts, but others like students, teachers, or any other individual should take their time and analyze them. Besides, because of their abundant nature, Arcega’s art should be displayed in multiple galleries or used to teach students to tap extensive knowledge they embody (Machida 10).
In conclusion, Arcega’s work is inspirational and gives people a vision of what they should know, and it drives others to unearth more about the past so that the historical errors made in the past are not repeated. The Spams/Maps reveals how the U.S conquered the world with the rapid spread of luncheon meat along the Pacific Island countries. The conquistadores enlighten the audience the contemporary audience that between the 16th and 20th century, the military was not well equipped while trade was far much developed after analyzing the Manila materials used to sew the armored suits. The past explains the present shows that ancient ship builders constructed strong and durable vessels for business in addition to boats employed in cargo and transportation. Further, Michael Arcega’s designs educate people that history remains constant because of its repetitive nature and adds flavor through wordplay but critically on factors which influence the Filipino history. Overall, creative arts assists people analyze situations and ideas deeply thus unveiling the reasons for repetitive history and hence opening avenues for the new future.

Works cited

Arcega, M. (n.d.). Conquistadourkes. Retrieved July 17, 2017, from http://arcega.us/section/240403-Conquistadourkes.html
Arcega, M. (n.d.). Manila Galleon Trade: Past describes Present. Retrieved july 17, 2017, from http://arcega.us/section/334112-Manila-Galleon-Trade-Past-describes-Present.html
Machida, Margo L. "Pacific Itineraries: Islands and Oceanic Imaginaries in Contemporary Asian American Art." Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas 3.1-2 (2017): 9-34.

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