Hadrian Mendoza

ceramic artist

Hadrian Mendoza, a stoneware Potter, works with a fearless and audacious search for unusual and indigenous forms, including expressionistic and abstract shapes. Mendoza was a graduate at Mary Washington College in Virginia and a former student at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC, where he was awarded the prestigious Anne and Arnold Abramson award for Excellence in Ceramics in 1996-1997.  He also organized the 1st Southeast Asian Ceramics Festival under the 2007-2009 Toyota Foundation Japan Grant. He curated the 2nd Southeast Asian Ceramics Conference and Exhibition in Fuping Pottery Art Village’s FLICAM International Ceramics Museum in China. 

In 1997 he searched for his roots and moved back to the Philippines, where he slowly metamorphosed into an individualistic and nationalistic artist with a keen and hungry eye for Southeast Asia’s indigenous forms. He has made deliberate attempts at achieving heavy cultural undertones for his works. A humble craftsman, Mendoza serves at the feet of his own cultural dilemmas as an artist.

His works are permanent collections in museums in Cambodia,  China, Korea, Japan, and 3 of the main museums in the Philippines, which are The Metropolitan Museum Manila, The Ayala Museum, and BenCab Museum.

"Shards and Shades" Metro Magazine March 2008 by Alya B. Honasan

It's supposed to be a barong-barong, but with shiny pottery shards stacked like a child's block against a sunny sky, the picture is far from glum.  Instead, it's a celebration of different textures, colors and elements coming together as pottery meets paint, in the happy union of two media by young artist Camille Nieves "Kim" Dacanay-Mendoza.

"Its something that i've wanted to do ever since I started doing pottery some four years ago," says 28-year-old Kim.  "I guess you call this a collage, because its an assemblage of different forms seeking new unity and new meaning."

The meaning naturally evolved from Kim's own state of being.  Married to a talented potter Hadrian "Adee" Mendoza, she lives with him and their little daughter Banaue Marie in "paradise," at the foot of Mt. Makiling in Calamba, Laguna.

"Working in a pottery studio with my husband provided me with an abundant source of material" says Kim.  "Pots are everywhere, and so are the shards and rejects that we mostly throw away.  One day, I told myself, hey, maybe I can do something with the broken pieces, so I started putting the shards aside, collecting rejects from our firings and trimmings.  I just do whatever the ceramic pieces tell me to do, and then accents the totality by painting the background,"  The ceramic pieces create an image in her head, Kim says, and the process is completed with a few strokes of oil paint.

Not that artistic pursuits are anything new; she was actually painting and sculpting first, having studied at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts, "where the system exposes students to different media before they can focus on their major."  Then she enrolled in a pottery school run by Adee and Jon Pettyohn, and a new passion- as well as life partnership- was molded.

Kim believes that clay is the ultimate three dimensional medium, while with canvas, "depth is created through color and texture.  When you put both materials to work, you created commonality: the painting achieves a three dimensional effect, while the ceramic pieces share in the illusion that the paint creates."

Part of the fun is figuring out just what the pieces of clay are trying to tell her.  "Its all about discovering the significance of something that would appear utterly useless.  I try to tweak them into saying something.  I love it when I am able to give new life to something that's been otherwise discarded."

Talk about fruitful recycling: glazed triangle make lovely sails for boats on a blue sea while odd-shaped squares from the houses in "Squatter."  Trimmings from the lip, the mouth of the pot in progress, makes perfect petals for flowers, curly strips of earth that literally pop off the canvass.

Kim recently concluded  a successful show at Apartment 1B in Makati, and actually finds joy in balancing her art and her domestic duties as wife and young mother.  "It's hard, but doable," she says with a laugh.  "Well, i'm a full-time hands-on mom, but i've also been itching to work!  When I did my show, I had to plan way, way ahead of the scheduled exhibit.  for one thing, I could work only  when Banaue was sleeping; awake, she demanded full attention.  But then, there's a side to it that also contributed to my art.  Banaue had been a source of both delight and discovery.  She's growing up and looking at the world with fresh eyes, and oftentimes, I find myself rediscovering the world through her."

The rediscoveries will now reach a bigger audience, as Kim looks forward excitedly to her first show with Adee, to be held at the Philippine Center in New York this October.  "He will fill the ground, and I will decorate the walls with my paintings.  We've been preparing for this show for the past two years, and a good rhythm between our works has been established."  A delightful rhythm indeed, whatever the medium.