What is the purpose of art? If you ask Erin Tejada, she may say art is her opportunity to bloom.
Erin, a 16-year-old Chinese-Filipino artist, recently held an online art exhibit via Zoom in celebration of the annual National Children’s Month (NCM) in the Philippines every November. The exhibit, in partnership with Museo ng Baliwag, was for the benefit of the Educational Research and Development Assistance (ERDA) Foundation, which supports the education of children from disadvantaged families and communities.
It’s a cause that’s close to Erin’s heart. Her father, Alvin Tejada, was an ERDA scholar and now ERDA’s Ambassador of Education and an architect. Erin also uses the arts as a personal form of expression. She was 2 years old when she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“Art has become a medium that she [uses] to communicate her feelings,”” shared Alvin Tejada. “Even at an early age, she would often draw objects, things, events, etcetera, that she [was] excited about. We [would] just let her scribble and use color as she would like it.”
An exhibit in full bloom
On her website, art lovers can view and buy Erin’s artworks, which are divided into three categories: Inspire, Perceive, and Bloom.
“Inspire” includes Erin’s renderings that were inspired by the artworks from senior artists. “Perceive” depicts how she sees the world, particularly people, relationships, food, and still-life objects. “Bloom” showcases artworks that reflect her freedom and the full awakening of her creativity, visually represented by flowers and nature, among others.
“It is Erin’s way of communicating and transcending her inner contemplation to the viewers. Even in the small place of her house, she was able to draw many paintings,” said Susie Garcia, Curator of Museo ng Baliwag.
How it all bloomed
Despite the pandemic and lockdown, Erin continued feeding her passion for the arts and painting.
“As she loves drawing and coloring, I gave her a sketchpad and a watercolor set that I bought for myself, but somehow I never really had the time to use it,” shared Alvin. “I showed her how to use the watercolor. However, I was unable to really teach her how to draw because communication really is a problem so I just let her discover and draw as she pleases. And we were amazed by all the artworks that she was able to produce.”
In just eight months, she was able to produce over a hundred artworks in various sizes and media depicting everyday scenes and objects. Alvin and his wife, Maricel, decided to document and post her works on a Facebook page that he created for her. This helped her get more recognition in the Philippines and the world, as her artworks have been featured and exhibited in competitions and fundraising events, some of which were to raise funds for frontliners and charity.
The Tejadas also hope that Erin’s story will inspire other families that have children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and that they may bloom as well.
Read more about Erin’s story here.