Gigi Bio - Creative Shapeshifter, Dream Weaver, Culture Bearer, Multidisciplinary Artist, Photographer, Designer
A creative since childhood and from a lineage of artists, designers, and creators, Gigi Bio is a multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work is a beautiful juxtaposition of colors and shapes, the past and the modern, the rhythms of life. It is also inspired by her roots to the Philippines, a precolonial time with nods to the textiles and beadwork of the indigenous tribes. Gigi recognizes community as a true uplifting force, collaborating with her siblings (who are also artists)in 8x10 Collective, as part of the original cast of Raised Pinay, and currently with Walang Hiya NYC. She believes in kapwa.
Gigi’s work has been seen in galleries throughout New York, and the US, with three upcoming shows: “Miss Walang Hiya 2019”, "Diverse & Beautiful : Kayumanggi - Post Colonial Filipinx”, and "Resurfacing” The Headdress Series.
How did you create your career path? Has art always been a part of your life?
My earliest memory of my creative journey was drawing heart shaped figures & making clothes for my dolls at 4 years old. When I was in Kindergarten, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said “An Artist, Teacher & Fashion Designer”. I clearly knew what I would be doing as an adult. It still amazes me today, that I listened to my 4 year old self. I have always been an old soul with deep eyes. The act of creation has always been in my roots, both my older brother, Leo & younger sister, Grace are both visual artists. After doing research for my family tree, I recently learned that my great grandmother (my father’s Lola) was a Fashion & Embroidery Designer just like me, I feel her spirit with me. My current art journey is going through a spiritual rebirth, resurfacing & realigning with the ancient. I am shape shifting through art, remixing the past & present into the future.
What/who inspires your work?
Everything & Anyone. To me, inspiration comes from all angles.
Have you always incorporated your Filipino culture in your art?
As a Filipina-American raised in the diaspora, I had always had a limited view of Filipino culture. I was always around the culture growing up, but never really knew about the indigenous part of our culture until I was in my mid 30’s. I am still in a process of unlearning everything I know. Learning more about our culture has fueled my artwork in an evolved way, channeling the deep roots of the Philippines - a time before our culture was stripped by colonialism. When I started researching the textiles, embroidery & beadwork of multiple tribes throughout the Philippines, the light in my eyes got so bright & all the visions I had throughout my life just made sense. I am still learning & feeling my way through art.
And what aspects of the culture do you highlight?
As an Artist who is also a Fashion & Surface Designer and Weaver, I have a deep rooted love for the indigenous textiles & connection to the embroidery and beadwork of the Philippines. In my new series of work titled “Resurfacing”, I am collaborating with other Filipinx artist learning more about each person’s individual family roots & incorporating their story through my lens - juxtaposing photography with weaving, beading, embroidery & elements of nature inspired by the indigenous tribes of the Philippines. My aim is to reflect the intricate beauty of the indigenous practices through modern eyes.
How does recognizing your roots bring you power? In art, in life?
We are all a living extension of the past. My journey is not just my own, but all the ancestors spirits alive and thriving within me. Recognizing my roots gave me a closer connection to the earth, a deep rooted sense of intention to keep my lineage alive in the present. I have a new sense of purpose to honor my ancestors, my future child & descendants. There is great power in re-membering who you are.
What are your favorite mediums to work in?
Through Art, I have learned to shift between various mediums in this life. I started my creative path in Fashion Illustration & Painting, then Photography - now into Digital Photography / Collage, Weaving, Embroidery, Beadwork & Mixed Media. In the future, I will be working more with large scale installations incorporating weaving & projections of light in space. All of the mediums I experiment with are interwoven to flow, stretch & evolve my visions.
You are also part of 8x10 Collective, Raised Pinay, and Walang Hiya NYC, how important is it to be part of groups/collectives with like minded views? What does being part of those groups mean?
I love to collaborate with others. When you work with groups or collectives that have a genuine shared connection, there is a sense of unity & drive to create. In a world full of war, hate & chaos, it’s important for us to be a light in this world & join forces.
The 8X10 Collective is the art trilogy of Leo Angelo Bio (my older brother), Grace Bio (my younger sister) & myself. The numbers symbolize our last name in number form (810 = BIO). We created this collective because we are all individual artists part of a whole. My kuya Leo is my favorite artist growing up - he taught me & my sister the foundations of our art. He is an illustrator, painter, chef & father to the youngest artist of the family, my 4 year old niece Mya. My younger sister, Grace is an illustrator, painter, graphic designer & art teacher. It’s truly a blessing we all chose our parents in this lifetime.
Both my sister Grace & I was part of “Raised Pinay” a benefit play for Roots of Health, to support reproductive health education in the Philippines in 2016. It is now in its third generation. Being part of Raised Pinay was empowering, we learned about the real life stories of each of our sisters & made something extremely beautiful in the process. I am happy to know that I am still friends with all of the cast & we still hold space together as community.
My current collaborative adventure is with “Walang Hiya NYC”, a collective of Filipinx shape shifters in the diaspora who will love & cut you shamelessly. It’s a labor of love, unlearning societal trauma, unpacking decolonization, colonialism & patriarchy and learning how to transmute shame through collective creation. Together we are voicing our truths, empowering each other & finding our joy, liberation and ancestral re-membrance.
How does your community uplift you?
It’s all about love, unity & collective strength. I find strength with people who are on the same wavelength & willing to do the real work together. Personally, I have a very nurturing spirit - I love to help mentor others. Being with community helps keep me grounded in the chaos of life. It’s empowering to find a common thread with kapwa & learning how we are all connected in this life. I believe the people we encounter in our lives have a deep meaning, there are messages & lessons to discover together.
What have been some of your favorite art events?
I have a long list of my favorite art events, but here are some important movements ranging from 2004 - 2018 that were major parts of my artistic growth… more to come!
"Kayumanggi : Post Colonial Filipinx", Tipton Gallery & Reece Museum, Johnson City, Tennessee.
"Women To The Front : Volume 1 (WTTF)", Supercheif Gallery, Ridgewood, New York.
"Raised Pinay" Benefit Play / Live Art Performance & Benefit Art Auction, Philippine Consulate & NYU Palladium Hall, New York, NY
"I am The Dream My Ancestors Dreamed Would Free Them" A Conversation About Decolonization and Re-membering Ancestors through the Arts, Queens Museum, Queens, NY
"G40 Art Summit", Art Whino Gallery, Washington DC
"Typhoon Haiyan Philippine Benefit Art Show", Launch Pad, Brooklyn, NY
"Raise Up Philippines" Art Benefit for the Philippines, Bunnycutlet Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
"Fear No Art 4" Contemporary Pop & Street Culture Group Show, Fourth Wall Project Gallery, Boston, MA
"Industrial Grace" Gigi Bio Solo Show, Art Attacks, New York, NY
"Bio vs. Nano" 8x10 Collective Show, DIS Micro Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
"Biomorphic" The Solo Show of Gigi Bio, Art Whine Gallery, Washington DC
The White Train presents "Utopia" Gigi Bio Solo Show, DIS Micro Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
"Graffolution" The Evolution of Graffiti & Street Art, Soapstone Gallery, New York, NY
Art Whino: MIAMI, Art Whino Gallery, Art Basel, Miami, FL
Brooklyn Artsmith Collective & PS261: Project 261 Art Show & Fundraiser, Galapagos Art Space, Brooklyn, NY
Street or Studio – The History of Urban Photography, Tate Modern, London, UK Click!
The Changing Faces of Brooklyn, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Sense of Otherness, Pinnacle Gallery, Savannah, GA / Savannah Gallery, Atlanta, GA
Do you have any upcoming events, projects that you are excited about?
"Miss Walang Hiya 2019"
A multi-media Installation & performance transmuting shame through art in Summer 2019 by collective, Walang Hiya NYC.
"Diverse & Beautiful : Kayumanggi - Post Colonial Filipinx” (Traveling Group Exihibition)
The ‘Kayumanggi: Post Colonial Filipinx’, a group exhibition featuring Filipino American artists is curated by Karlota Contreras-Koterbay as part of the Diverse & Beautiful: Black Asian and Hispanic Appalachia project. The multimedia exhibition focuses on the politics of skin color and post colonial investigation of the nuanced, hybrid identity through art as agency, with interest on use of new media, and technology such as in the form of photography, film/video, sculptural installations and animation. Kayumanggi: Post Colonial Filipinx is also the third in a series of exhibitions as part of a collaborative project between the ETSU Slocumb Galleries and the American Museum of Philippine Art, highlighting Filipina/o, and Filipinx-American artists, with support from the Tennessee Arts Commission, and various regional cultural institutions.
"Resurfacing” The Headdress Series
A multi-media collaborative series inspired culture, highlighting the crown chakra of each individual in the series - through surface design elements & motifs inspired by one's cultural make-up. Each piece is based on DNA, personal roots, elements of indigenous textiles, embroideries & beadwork juxtaposed with photography, collage, weaving & an element of nature.
Photos courtesy of Gigi Bio