Weaving Wonders: Melissa Yeung-Yap Celebrates Indigenous Art Through Her Exhibit

Changing lives through art.

Through her 10th solo exhibit entitled 10 10 10, Filipina artist and philanthropist Melissa Yeung-Yap gives platform to the rich craftsmanship of indigenous artisan communities.

In the age of globalization and multiculturalism, it gets increasingly difficult to get back to one’s roots with all the (physical, and more importantly, cultural) distractions that the heavily digitized world entails. This is especially true for the youth, the digital natives, who are almost always preoccupied with white noise, at times even losing touch with their core identity. This is where local artists like Melissa Yeung-Yap, whose decade-long art and vocation of supporting Filipino indigenous communities, makes a significant impact.

Inspired by her advocacy for nature and culture, Yeung-Yap incorporates traditional crafts into her art which hews to a modern style, bridging tradition with innovation. And with her tenth solo exhibition, Yeung-Yap offers all of us a time to pause and reflect about the inimitable and diverse beauty of Philippine culture as she does what she’s been doing best: showcasing the ingenuity of indigenous craftsmanship.

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10 10 10

Melissa Yeung Yap's Bintana - Day & Night

Through her tenth solo exhibition entitled 10 10 10, Melissa Yeung-Yap marks her 10th anniversary in the art world, her 10th solo exhibition, and celebrates her colorful and fruitful collaboration with over 10 Philippine indigenous and artisan communities. In her prolific career spanning a decade, the Filipino-Chinese artist has made resonant contributions to the archipelago’s indigenous communities by integrating their knowledge and products into her creations.

Presented by Art Lounge Manila and Gallery Nine Online with curatorial work Ricky Francisco, 10 10 10 spotlights Yeung-Yap’s tapestry-like works through a generous exhibition which features paintings, sculptures, NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and interactive works which radiate the artist’s eloquent and intuitive style while also bearing the vibrancy and verve of indigenous creativity; melding the vibrant colors of the Philippine flora with the patterns of our homegrown fabrics. 

Melissa Yeung-Yap with T'boli weavers
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“My philosophy is to care—for the environment, for people. To maximize my life to make better situations,” shares Melissa Yeung-Yap in an interview with Save Philippine Seas. Apart from being a gifted artist and a mother, Yeung-Yap is also a field researcher, a pharmaceutical company owner, and a social entrepreneur who has dedicated her life working with various marginalized communities through her advocacy work.

Actively pursuing her causes for culture and the environment, Yeung-Yap has established non-governmental organizations like Got Heart Foundation and Earth Kitchen among others, which provide sustainable livelihood to several farming, fishing, and indigenous communities, as well as ethically champion the products of our local makers and artisans.

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Before the pandemic, Yeung-Yap was also able to conduct workshops, using art as therapy, for the child victims of the Marawi siege. At the height of the pandemic, she continued to pay it forward by sustaining the livelihood of the T’boli T’nalak weavers from South Cotabato, buying, promoting, and incorporating their products into her art pieces, and even refurbishing their weaving center. 

“This exhibition comes as a thanksgiving for Melissa Yeung-Yap, as well as a giving back, for through it, she has involved herself in the cycle of sustainability of more than 10 artisan communities across our country,” notes curator Ricky Francisco. In 10 10 10, Melissa Yeung-Yap’s purposive and impactful art shines as she once again foregrounds the plural beauty of Filipino culture through collaborations with indigenous communities from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

From the filigree-work and tambourine jewelry of Vigan and the T’nalak fabric of the T’boli to the Capiz panes of Tarlac, Inabel weaving of Abra and Cordillera, and the Tingkep baskets of the Pala’wan artisans, Melissa Yeung-Yap proves that art heals, inspires, empowers, and ultimately, changes lives. “Through these years, I’ve learned that the more we give of ourselves, the more meaningful and purposeful life becomes. It’s nice to wake up everyday knowing that life is meaningful,” Yeung-Yap continues.

Contemplate the complex beauty of Filipino indigenous art and witness the awe-inspiring creative talent of Melissa Yeung-Yap (and her big heart as well) as 10 10 10 runs until December 7, 2022 at ArtistSpace. Head over to ArtistSpace’s social media page for more details.

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