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New ARTablado exhibit is sister act

"Sister Act: A Tale of Artistic Harmony"

Growing up in an artistically-inclined family helped develop sisters Bettina Marie and Maita Hagad into the promising young artists they are today. Their parents Felix and Catherine Hagad are both seasoned architects, and their maternal grandmother Estrella H. Hagad is an accomplished artist as well.

Eight years ago, Maita exhibited some of her works alongside that of her Lola but this time—at ARTablado in Robinsons Galleria—it’s a sister act that is not one of sibling rivalry but a dual display of creativity.

The sisters hail from Bacolod City and are multi-disciplinary artists whose combined skills include painting, sketching, sculpture, fashion design, fashion styling, photography, videography, print making, textiles and installation art.

Both are graduates of De La Salle College of St. Benilde. Bettina has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising while Maita graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design, major in Landscape Design.

In 2019, Bettina developed the fashion line Downtown Lavish with a partner that continues to do well. Last year, Maita studied Landscape Architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Design Discovery Program.

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Although Bettina sees fashion as her “true north,” she returned to painting during the pandemic and began creating lively, abstract canvases that depict activities that require the use of touch: playing dice, mazes, tic-tac-toe, abacuses and even old-school glass marbles with swirls of color in the center.

She found an audience that appreciated her works and was able to successfully sell her paintings through trade shows and by accepting commission-based work. To hone her skills in pencil work, Bettina took sketching courses at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts in August 2023.

“I can’t pinpoint when I discovered my love for art but I was drawn to it an early age. I can still vividly recall taking art classes and drawing whenever and wherever I could as a young child,” she recalled.

Initially enthralled by fishes, landscapes and seascapes, she moved on to doodling fashionably dressed girls as her interest in fashion grew. “I think my art journey has not been the most linear and is an experience that is quite unique to me, given that I’ve decided to pursue both arts and fashion,” Bettina said.

Today, she works as a freelance artist and fashion designer who takes on different roles needed in her family’s business. Bettina is also gearing up for the opening of her new arts studio in Bacolod City.

Her sister Maita is an award-winning designer, artist and dancer who “seeks to intersect concepts of ecology, memory, and movement through forms of visual and spatial experiences.”

Maita’s creations, which range from clay pottery and paintings to print and tapestry, were influenced by her early years in Bacolod and her adult life in Metro Manila.

One of her showcased items is a hand-stitched tapestry entitled “Tutod” that took her nine months to complete. Set in a grid-like pattern, it’s an aerial view of Negros Occidental’s sugarcane plantations.

On her Instagram account, Maita said the piece, dyed brown and black, “recalls the ‘tutod’ practice of burning sugarcane fields after harvest—an enduring image from growing up in Bacolod City.”

“Growing up surrounded by artists and designers, I was introduced to the arts at a very young age. When I was just four years old, I began classical ballet training. This was the beginning of my love for the arts, as it was within these creative environments where I found my most expressive and inspired self,” Maita recalled.

“My artistic journey started within the realm of performing arts. Dance, inherently intertwined with the notion of space, instigated my fascination with the movement of bodies within spatial contexts. This led me to delve into the study of interior and landscape design. Since then, my artistic endeavors have served a means to intertwine these diverse interests and inquiries.”

The sisters’ shared love for so many branches of the arts is unique and tightly binds them.

“I think having a sister who is also into the arts benefits us both in so many ways. Not only are we able to feed off of each other’s ideas, but we are also able to have interesting and deep conversations as sisters,” Bettina said.

“We learn together and from each other,” Maita added.

Both said they were grateful to have been invited to present their works at ARTablado. “This opportunity to exhibit my work to the public is significant to me,” Maita said.

“Both Maita and I have not exhibited in a long time. Given that Robinson’s advocacy will greatly help me as a young artist starting out, I could not refuse the offer,” Bettina added.

“These Objects Walk, Not Run,” the two-woman exhibit of Bettina Marie S. Hagad and Maita S. Hagad runs until July 15 at ARTablado in Robinsons Galleria.

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