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Meet our Monthly Maker: Omar Buenaventura

Tell us about yourself

I am a self-taught Filipino-American installation artist living in Lenapehoking. In 2020, my partner Nicky Uy and I formed Bahay215, an ongoing art collaboration inspired by Filipinx tradition, diaspora, community, and nature. Inspired by the local environment as well as my childhood experiences growing up in the Philippines, My work commonly implements reclaimed wood and locally grown bamboo.

Bahay215 has been featured in Davinci Art Alliance, The Rail Park’s Tire Swing Fund Project, Free Library of Philadelphia for the Chronicling Resistance Exhibition, Fleisher Art Memorial’s Día de los Muertos event, and Asian Arts Initiative.

What do you make/what are you currently working on?

As the 2022-2023 recipient of the DVAA + NextFab Residency, I currently have an exhibition at Davinci Art Alliance which will be followed by an exhibition at Nextfab North. I’m also working on other pieces for an upcoming group exhibition at DVAA.

How did you come up with this idea/how did you get started?

I’m inspired by my memories of growing up in the Philippines and I try to create familiar pieces that would invoke longing for home and the feeling of belonging for Filipinos who want to reconnect and for folks who want to get to know the beauty of our culture.

What’s the hardest part?

Inspiration comes easy, and the hunt for materials to reclaim is exciting. It’s the space to keep bulk items without becoming a hoarder that is the most difficult part.

What are your goals?

My goal is to never stop learning and to keep on improving with my techniques. I intend to learn more about CNC and computer design when the opportunity comes in the future.

What inspires you?

My family is what inspires me—I believe in honoring the past through art and practice, and I believe my work is an act of resistance. I make Filipino-inspired art with what is around and readily available. I enjoy reclaiming and upcycling materials; rusted iron, bamboo, and weathered wood sway me. I bring new life to things that the modern world considers discardable. The pieces I make are rustic and asymmetrical with defects that give them life and character.

What’s your most rewarding memory in your business?

I don’t currently have a business, but it’s always a pleasure seeing folks young and old excited and enthusiastic seeing our events and installations.

What machinery/shops do you often use at NextFab?

Working with tons of reclaimed wood, the jointer and the planer are the machines I used the most.

What is your favorite part about NextFab and why?

My favorite part of Nextfab is the staff! They have the best group of folks that are always there to help. They have gone above and beyond for me many times, I appreciate all the knowledge and expertise that they have shared.

What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in the next year? What plans do you have for your business moving forward?

I see myself working on more Art Installations, larger and more interactive sculptures.

In Partnership with FORMATION. Media