The story of Woman, Create began with a series of unfortunate events— heartbreak, disease, familial discord, and financial troubles. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with having an Endometriosis Cyst, one of the most ridiculous lifelong diseases that most don’t really know about, let alone know how to treat. At the time, I had the misfortune of enduring doctors who did not specialize in this particular disease. I felt overwhelmed when they prompted me to get immediate surgery via laparoscopy—one of the most expensive surgeries ever. They did not even bother to inform me of the post-operation long-terms risks. I lived in fear and anxiety as I was made to believe that the cyst inside me had the power to abruptly explode and ultimately, end me. I lived doubting my womanhood and despaired on the potential of my inability to create life in the future. On top of this, I was struggling to endure my greatest heartbreak. I thought I was ruined. I thought I deserved to live in the deepest pit of darkness. And the worst, I thought I was alone.
But art suddenly decided to show up.
It came beckoning, urging me to take delight in it. I wasn’t a visual artist at that time but it whispered stirrings for me to partake in the act of creating despite all odds. Still, what else could I lose that I haven’t already? And Collage Art, my chosen medium, allowed me to explore, to reflect and ironically, to become more than who I thought I was meant to be. Woman, Create was just a birthing that I didn’t expect would come this far.
Initially, Woman, Create was only meant to be a one-time thing, specifically a fundraiser set for my impending operation. But I remember going to benefits and doubting their purpose, so I decided not to advertise Woman, Create as such. Even if this was for me, I didn’t want it to be about me. What was the point of a cause if people could not relate to it, if they could not actively partake in it? I started to think about all my struggles, about what it was doing to my psyche. I then thought about the potential multitude of other girls out there doubting themselves, possibly suffering alone in the four walls of their bedroom. I wanted to reach them and pass on this baton of Hope. I wanted to tell them the secret of Empowerment; that it starts from within and naturally flows out to become. I wanted to tell them that Art was one vessel I discovered that allows transcendence of being. I thought about the concept of Women Empowerment, and what the whole point of it all was. All these plus the help of solid friends, I launched Woman, Create on International Women’s Day, with an invitation for everyone to reflect on the basic essence of feminism through the question, “Why Empower Women?”
Since then, I have created many vessels to channel my core message— out of art fairs, exhibits, workshops, social-driven advocacies, poetry gigs, art parties in foundations, my very own 365 Wonders planner book, and my very own mini-art school, The School of Collage, all of which highlight women issues through art. And while this has all been a dream come true, the most beautiful outcome Woman, Create procured was the community that came together to either support, be inspired, or create. It is a community comprised of feminists, artists, creative enthusiasts, aspiring young adults, wise mothers and even wandering, lost souls seeking for hope and empowerment through the wonders of art. Initially, I thought no one would really care about a woman’s empowerment, nor feel inspired by this movement. I was incredibly unprepared for how wrong I was.
Art might not exactly be the answer to the problems people face today, but it has the power to awaken something within. In its stillness, it is revolutionary enough to engage and empower. To partake in the act of creating despite the odds of who you think you are can leads to the discovery of your own potential and purpose. Knowing that, wouldn’t you want to give it a try and see how far it can take you?
Woman, Create implores that your struggle can become your potential. And it is in this journey that I have learned that in times of strife, community can become a home.
By creating more, you become more.
Maybe that’s the wonder art creates for us every day.