October 18, 2022 – Rissa A. Coronel
The Orlinas are a mainstay in the Philippine cultural landscape: when you hear the family name, Ramon Orlina’s lifetime of glass sculpture artistry would likely come to mind– pioneering and perfecting his signature method of cutting, grinding, and polishing glass cullets. But what makes a legacy is the way that they persist across generations. The Orlina line of excellence doesn’t just continue; it continues to evolve and innovate with Anna Orlina.
Keeping up with the Orlinas
Anna Orlina is the third of Ramon Orlina and Lay Ann Lee’s four children — all of whom have grown up immersed in art, living out their passions in their own ways. Art is a family affair with the Orlinas, and for Anna, she considers her love of the craft as innate: “I really feel like it was already in my genes. It was very easy because I am blessed to have very supportive parents who helped us grow and hone our interests and skills.”
Naesa, Ning Ning, Anna, and Michael Orlina are all involved in shared artistic endeavors despite different backgrounds. Galleries, exhibitions, and fairs are a must during Orlina family excursions. The entire family plays a part in the management of their Museo Orlina in Tagaytay, with Anna, Michael, and Ningning having co-founded their in-house arts and music festival Tagaytay Art Beat.
In this home surrounded by art, Anna and her siblings were given creative freedom and the space to grow. “Growing up around glass and the workshop, I learned my father’s techniques just by watching him and his assistants work,” she recounts. “So my father suggested that my brother and I go to Pilchuck Glass School in Washington state to see how other people make their glassworks.”
Anna acknowledges her father’s immense role in her artistic growth with gratitude… and no less than an award-winning artwork. Her first glass sculpture, Pastel Sunrise (2015) was crafted in collaboration with her father, maintaining Orlina Sr.’s signature geometric form while adding novel pops of pastel color. She went on to become one of the ten finalists during MullenLowe’s 2019 NOVA Awards with her sculpture, Mon’s Drian (2019), which was an ode to both Piet Mondrian and her father even in its title’s wordplay. The piece was done in Orlina Sr.’s classic coldworking technique and executed in the visual idiom of Mondrian, one of her father’s favorite artists.
But she took quite a different turn with her training, laying down the foundations of her unique glass explorations. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Arts at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in 2015 and briefly worked as a gallery manager. This training has given her invaluable proficiencies in illustration, graphic design, marketing and digital tools. She eventually realized it was time to invest in her greatest passion: “After I worked at a gallery for 6 months, I decided it was time to focus on my art and glass,” she shares.
Summers of sculpture
Since then, Anna’s summers would be spent immersed in creative glass courses at Pilchuck Glass School and the Corning Museum of Glass in the United States. She reflects, “That experience certainly piqued my interest and broadened my knowledge on glass. (…) There I learned different glass mediums, new techniques and uses of different machineries.”
She also went on to study in the Czech Republic, a country known for its glassworking: “It is like one of the glass capitals of the world aside from Venice in Italy. Czech is one of the leaders of glass manufacturing,” she notes. She resided in the town of Nový Bor, where she learned techniques such as glass painting, cold cutting, tiffany stained glass, and sandblasting. In the exercises and explorations she shares from her time here, one would notice a playful quality: her art veers towards representations of diverse subject matters ranging from nature themes, toy dinosaurs, and even wearable glass rings.
These summers necessitated explorations in more ways than just her artistry. In her six months at Czech, she learned to speak and understand the language. She also met several glass artisans during her stay. Coming from the pioneer family of glassmaking in the Philippines, these meetings are a rarity for her locally: “I really enjoyed meeting other glass people and artists and networking, because it’s so nice to be surrounded by a group of people who are like-minded in glass.”
Unveiling innovations at ManilArt
This year marks a major milestone in Anna’s artistic career. In ManilArt 2022, she is set to unveil her first works for sale. She reveals that these will be geometrical shapes with different colors of glass, and that this will be a mix of both representational and abstract forms.
From her summers abroad, she was able to acquire coldworking glass machines for herself and Orlina Sr.’s respective workshops. Anna has since established her own workshop at home; it is here where she applies what she has learned, and she has indeed come a long way in the span of a few years. “My own style comes from the combination of my dad’s techniques and the new techniques I’ve learned through my studies and just having the freedom to experiment with them,” she says of her artistic style.
And her upcoming exhibit will showcase just that: the culmination of her own lifetime of artistry thus far, of her dedication to the craft of glass sculpting. Her explorations have taken her far in every sense of the word—she charts a course for her future while broadening Philippine horizons in the art of glass. Innovation keeps ideas and artistic movements afloat during changing times, and that is what makes a legacy.
ManilART 2022 is set to run from October 19-23, 2022, at the SMX Convention Center, 3rd Level, SM Aura Premier, Taguig City. Call (0977) 807 3369 or visit www.manilartfair.com for details.
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