Heights Ateneo — The Official Literary and Artistic Publication and Organization of the Ateneo de Manila University

Coloring beyond the lines: Alfred Marasigan on the 11th Ateneo Heights Artists Workshop

Arianne Aleta | Jul 5, 2021

For the first time since its inception, the Ateneo HEIGHTS Artists Workshop (AHAW) had to be conducted fully online for its 11th year due to the restraints brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite the many challenges that came with transitioning from the onsite setting to the online one, it was nevertheless enjoyable and executed well, according to Mr. Alfred Marasigan, one of the panelists for the most recently conducted AHAW.  

“I felt cared for, all the steps were meticulously planned and executed smoothly. I think it helps in such a volatile time that the workshop was planned and well done. I was super happy to not have uncertainty or difficulty.”

Although he mentioned that there was a limitation with regards to the [online] format, there was no sort of limitation in the planning, and he especially liked the Google Sheets that was the new addition to this year’s AHAW. 

“I like that there was an Excel file for pre-comment; it was extensive and asynchronous. [...] There is more varied feedback, and the fellow gets more from all the panelists. That Excel file allows for fellows to speak up, even co-fellows are able to comment.”

Although the workshop was held virtually this year, many moments were still memorable, spontaneous, and very much tangible. According to Mr. Marasigan, one of the things that he remembered from this workshop was when one of the fellows cried after having been critiqued as, according to him, this reminded everyone that, despite the mediation of screens, they were still talking to real-life human beings on the other side. 

“Important siyang reaction to critique. It keeps us on our toes, reminds us we’re still talking to people. It keeps people attentive to what’s happening.”

The online version of AHAW, however, could only do so much, and there were inevitably many aspects and activities in the onsite workshops that were missed. For Mr. Marasigan, he missed going outdoors and exploring new settings as these stimulate creativity and allow the workshop participants to bond.

“Nice kasi mag-explore ng mga lugar. New environments are good stimulants for creativity. When people haven’t been somewhere or meet new people, it forces them out of their usual behavior; they are more receptive.”

Whether onsite or online, however, workshops are still workshops, and at the core of them is to help the fellows develop their techniques and guide them in finding their own artistic style and voice. When asked about what he looked forward to in every workshop, Mr. Marasigan mentioned that it’s the peer support that one gets from it, something that may act as a community for artists, as according to him, they might be “stuck in their heads.”

“It’s the peer support. I get to see the panelists, meet new artists, meet new team of the workshop. We might be stuck in our heads—Am I doing well as an artist? All of those drama—but I just think we don’t wanna be alone in sharing our work. What I’m looking for is how it [the workshop] will turn out among this new collective/set of people.”

When asked what he would like to say to future AHAW fellows, he urged them to make use of the opportunities presented to them and seek out the things that interest them. Furthermore, he told them not to wait for someone to affirm them as artists. 

“... use the network as an opportunity to direct yourselves. [...] If you are interested in something, seek it out. Seek out the things that interest you. [...] Hopefully, the workshops have, will serve, are serving as a good marker. Bouldering. Hopefully, you find footing in this opportunity. As you move up, you become more confident in what you want to do, what you want to share. No one else can piece it out for you. Art is an instance of agency—it’s what you do with your freedom. Art is not easy, but I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. I would definitely say it’s rewarding. Don’t wait for someone to affirm that you’re an artist. Art has become something about merit, instead of a thing human people do. It saddens me that people do not know how powerful their work is. Just because many people do something, doesn’t mean it’s valid. What’s stopping you from coloring beyond the lines?”

Written by

Arianne Aleta

English Staffer, 2020-2021

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