STONY BROOK INDEPENDENT: “Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery Features Isabel Manalo’s ‘Skin Codes’”

SBIndie-logoPosted December 7, 2015
By Abby Del Vecchio
Reviews Editor

The gallery’s latest exhibit, Isabel Manalo: “Skin Codes,” debuted Nov. 7, 2015 and will run until Dec. 12, 2015.  Manalo uses her Filipino-American heritage as inspiration for her artwork, which address ideas of “power and identity as defined by race, ethnicity, geography and class,” according to an interview she did with Levitov.

Isabel Manalo combines painting with sewing in her Skin Codes exhibition. Photo by Abby Del Vecchio
Isabel Manalo combines painting with sewing in her Skin Codes exhibition. Photo by Abby
Del Vecchio











“‘Skin Codes’ is a body of work I began developing that is inspired by the ancient art of Filipino Tattooing,” Manalo said in an email. “The canvases were made with the idea of the canvas as skin and the codes and motifs presented on the canvas as way to create the pattern and symbolism.” Manalo combines painting with photography, drawing, sewing and writing as well as visual clues and coding.

Manalo has used real life movements to inspire her artwork.  The refugee crisis in Europe, the Black Lives Matter movement and the “climate change centered in the oil drilling in Alaska” are just some of the political issues that she is passionate about and that has inspired her work.
Isabel Manalo combines painting with sewing in her Skin Codes exhibition. Photo by Abby Del Vecchio
Isabel Manalo uses real political issues as inspiration for her work. Photo by Abby Del Vecchio



Manalo has been showcasing her work internationally since 1999, with both group and solo exhibitions in New York, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia and Berlin, according to her biography.  Manalo also has had a solo exhibition at the Orlando Museum of Art.

One of Manalo's pieces. Photo by Abby Del Vecchio
One of Manalo’s pieces. Photo by Abby
Del Vecchio

Manalo spent the last three years living in Berlin, Germany.  She said she was able to make her work more raw because she did not care what other people thought of her work.

“Berlin is like New York, you feel anonymous and no one’s looking at you and you can do whatever the heck you want without anyone judging you,” she said in her interview with Levitov.  “It was so liberating.”

Manalo hopes that when gallery goers view her art, it encourages them to think outside the box.

“My hope is for people to be curious about the work – to ask ‘why?’ I also hope there is an appreciation of the work as well both aesthetically and conceptually,” she said.

As for what her favorite piece is in this collection, Manalo cannot choose, but there is one that is close to her heart.

“I don’t have a favorite piece but I do heavily lean towards “Tagumpay” for the inclusion of the many emojis as well as the composition and palette,” Manalo said.

Photo by Abby Del Vecchio
Manalo’s “Tagumpay.” Photo by Abby Del Vecchio

Levitov thinks highly of Manalo and her work.

“She is a wonderfully open and generous person and loves speaking with students,” she said. The gallery is working to get students more involved and uses social media to do so.  The gallery has a Facebook, Instagram, Twitterand even Snapchat (the gallery’s official Snapchat username is pwzgallery).

Levitov says she thinks students should be more involved with the gallery because of how it connects to everyday life. “Students should visit the gallery to see interesting art that is relevant to their lives,” she said.  “We show cutting-edge art of the caliber of New York museums and galleries, as well as art by your peers in the spring. In the current show, Isabel Manalo uses hashtags and emojis in her work as a way of tweeting onto her canvases. Students can come hang out, talk to their friends, take and post pictures and enjoy the art. Anyone should feel free to stop in, even if it’s only for five minutes between classes.”

Read the full article here.