Category Archives: Visual Arts

Re-treat the Voice of the Artist

Photo Courtesy of MasterDabblers

By Glendalys Medina

Retreats can take many forms, so I ask myself what are they essentially? Aren’t they just structured moments to allow the flash of inspiration to strike? All of us need time alone for reflection. To ask ourselves such questions as ‘Who am I? What do I want? What does this mean?’ and ‘How am I going to achieve my dreams?’ We all seek our inner being, whose voice can be easily drowned out if not cultivated. To keep in touch I have learned to slow–down, to think and listen before I speak, to keep a close eye on what I let out into the universe. A mind with mental clarity and focus is a powerful tool, so it can only help to learn to control it right?

So let me ask you this, have you ever been creatively stuck, emotionally stuck, mentally stuck or any type of stuck? If you are alive then the answer to this question I assume is yes. Life is a beautiful adventure and the best adventures have great challenges. One must collect an arsenal of tools to overcome these challenges and reach the mountain of inner stillness, to become the vehicle of purposeful creation. I write this post today to share with you a tool that came to me when I was all of the above STUCK. The tool is simply silence.


This practice was introduced to me by Jessica Kung Dreyfus and Stephane Dreyfus in late 2012 while I was a visual arts fellow at the American Academy in Rome. I was in my 4th month of an 11-month residency and I hadn’t made a thing. I was completely overwhelmed and emotionally and mentally exhausted. I had all this time and space and inspiration was on a vacation. I couldn’t hear myself and I craved solitude. So I gave it to myself and with written instructions from Jessica and Stephane I went on a silent retreat for four days in my very own studio at the Academy. I kept a schedule, gave myself some basic tools to make artwork, had meals brought to me, said no to my computer and started playing. In those four days I learned a lot about myself, I felt completely free and energized, everything calmed down and I began a completely new body of work that I am still working on today. Inspiration finally struck!


Glendalys Medina “Alphabet Series: #6 of 26, (F)” Pencil and marker on paper. 126cm x 172cm 2013

Since then MasterDabblers has been working with Jessica Kung Dreyfus and Stephane Dreyfus to bring and share with you this transformative gift called ‘Unspoken’. ‘Unspoken’ is a silent retreat-in-box that contains everything you need to begin your retreat today.  I must tell you that this practice has been a godsend and has become a frequently used tool in my arsenal. So, if you are in need of this priceless gift today or you want to arm yourself for the next rainy day  please visit


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Making from Memory: Interview with Multidisciplinary Artist Maia Cruz Palileo

This week MD gives you a sneak preview of an upcoming visit to NYC artist Maia Cruz Palileo’s studio to which you’re invited. If you enjoy her interview and want to learn more about her practice and see what she’s been up to in person, check out the event page to sign up. Spots are limited.

Where are you from? What was it like growing up there?

I was born in Chicago and grew up in the suburbs. My parents were very tight with the Filipino community and our house was lively and full of people singing around the piano and choreographing dances to music from Hair and West Side Story. I can explain this more at the visit, but it is the memory that is surfacing at the moment.

When did you start making work about your family’s arrival to America and your childhood in the midwest?

In 2006, I was curious about memories and whether I could retrieve a specific memory by recreating the place of the memory’s origin. I started working on an installation based on my grandparent’s living room, a place where I had strong memories. I eventually ended up converting my studio into a recreation of their living room. In order to do that, I used photos and videos from the 80’s and also reached out to my grandmother and other family members and asked for pictures so I could piece together the entire room. I scanned the pictures for knick knacks, artwork, furniture, anything I could see, I replicated. That installation turned out to be a typical American living room, it could have been anyone’s living room in the 80’s and I was surprised because I thought it was going to be super Filipino. That was how I perceived my grandparents. Turned out they were pretty Americanized, at least through their choice of decor, except for a pair of figurative wood carvings of a Filipino man and woman and family pictures on the mantel. I am not sure what came of my memory experiment, but it got me wondering what it was like to move to America, where they came from, who lived in that living room, what they brought with them to remember their home and how they imparted the Filipino culture to us, the first generation. Did they want to remember it or did they want to leave it totally behind?

I started researching this and talked to my grandmother and the rest of the family who all immigrated to the Midwest and tried to collect as much oral history as I could about what it was like for them growing up, moving to America, all that, because I realized it was important to me to know this, to learn our history in America and the stories were getting woven into my work. That research got me curious about what it was like before they moved. What life was like in the Philippines. As I write this, I am in Manila, on my other grandmother’s farm learning about the other side of my family in the Philippines collecting stories, images, and visiting the homes of my parents and grandparents.

What were you making before that?

I was making sculptures with fabric and other materials like string and cheesecloth and had started experimenting with installation. They were all based on recreating some memory, like a floral comforter, carpet with long strands, a printed wallpaper with a muppets-type felt puppet like sculpture that you could pull strings and manipulate. They were kind of random but I think I was still trying to do the same thing.

You work in so many different media. Animation, drawing, painting, sculpture and installation. It seems that each form is able to accomplish something different. What’s the benefit of using so many different forms? 

Every medium has different ways of revealing themselves. Drawing, for me, is the most direct and raw. Sculpture is different because it is indirect, as in, I have an idea for a sculpture and then it undergoes so many stages from beginning to end that it takes longer and is reliant on the actual process or steps it goes through to come to the final stage. Painting is like that too, but it’s more mysterious and elusive and it feels like the hardest one for that reason, which is why I keep doing it. A lot of the time, all the different mediums influence each other. I used to be hard on myself for jumping around mediums so much, but now I accept this is just the way I like to work, whether I choose to or not, everything leads to the next and it just goes like that.

What are you working on now?

In the studio, I’m working on paintings and some sculptures that I can paint on. Actually at this very moment, I’m in the Philippines until the end of the month. Can’t wait to see what this experience will bring to my work.

For more information about Maia Cruz Palileo visit her website at .

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