Monday, February 27, 2017

Artist Nelfa Querubin-Tompkins talks Life, Love, Work (& God!) @ Henry Luce III Library

Make me pen and ink
to tell others how you saved me,
make me paint your vision
as it comes to me,
Lord, keep on making me as your own
for that is my salvation
-from the Artist's Brief Testimony

Nelfa Querubin speaking at her exhibit at the Ayala Museum
Last February 14 was CPUR day in our university. Instead of holding the usual schedule of classes, there were many alternative classes to choose from on various topics, with interesting speakers. One talk was by the ceramic artist Nelfa Querubin on the topic of 'Life, Love, and Work.'

Nelfa Querubin-Tompkins one of the leading names in contemporary ceramics. Her art is shown in exhibits and collections all over the world. For those who don't know, there is a gallery in the 4th floor of the Henry Luce III Library in CPU with her works. Since I cataloged some of her books for the library, I didn't want to miss the chance of listening to her speak. I also visited the gallery for the first time and I have to agree, her works are exceptional. You can almost feel the spirit of the artist in each unique piece.

Some examples of her work, two of my favorites, Chismis and Quartermoon.


More at the Henry Luce III Library Gallery at the 4th floor
Since it was Valentines Day, the popular topic to talk about was love. The artist talked about her own experience. She had her first crush at 17, but she got married three decades later at 47! She is now 75 years old. Since her first love was art and her life was difficult (working to help feed a family of 13 siblings and a sick mother, with a father who abandoned them), her priority was survival and not cutesy love affairs. She got married to someone who supported her artistic career, building a studio and creative space for her to work.

As her audience was college students, she adviced them that they should focus more on their studies than waste their energy on their love lives. "Going crazy about someone you are attracted to is stupid, and if its affecting your duties and your grades, you're the loser," she said. According to her, all good relationships and marriages start from friendship and they must support one another. She said that most artists she knows suffered through divorce, due to selfishness or an unsupportive partner.

But she also talked about Love as in Passion for our work, hobbies, and professions. The art field is very competitive and without love and passion for clay and ceramics, she wouldn't have succeeded. In her zeal for art, she said that she forgot about marriage! Love keeps us working even if we're failing, even if no one likes us or our work, and even if everything else says that what we do is impractical.

We should also love education and learning. Growing up in poverty, she and her brother knew the importance of education and strived to finish their studies. They were struggling students who worked while going to school, and it was the love of education that made them determined to accomplish their goals.

She reminded us again of real, unconditional love as written by Paul in the Bible:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 1:4-8)
And in John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
In her testimony on how she became a Christian, she said that she had focused too much on her artistic career that it has become an idol. Though she was a Christian, it was a 'fake Christianity', she still lived her life the way she wanted it and still did not surrender herself to God. "In the height of my success, when I was reaping numerous awards and building a name, I was struck by a deadly disease. In my dying state, I cried to the Lord to give me one more chance to live. Instantly, he healed me, miraculously, as joy flooded my whole being."

Now, Ms. Querubin is still making art, giving talks, and inspiring people to turn to Christ through her art.

Ms. Querubin giving her talk
Some more of her works at the gallery. The one in the middle is a working teapot!

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