Ryan Villamael says his long, bittersweet attachment to compulsory academic subjects like biology and the natural sciences inspired his latest one-man exhibit, New Specimens. He recalls, “It was a misery to make myself understand the terminologies, and how things in nature worked. The only things that caught my interest were the organic designs of jar archives of preserved, organic objects, slide specimens of organisms, fossil records, and limitless, beautiful biological illustrations.”
Such agony eventually developed into curiosity that led to the detailed, delicate sketches and illustrated cutouts in New Specimens. “Who would have thought such fascinatingly detailed sketches would appear after those endless exercises of toad dissections, pickled organs, and the occasional fainting spell?”
In this exhibit, Villamael gets more intimate with his medium of choice, paper, as he continuously refines the process of creating smaller scale pieces of cutout works. He composes them in a way that the works were framed to look like glass-encased slides of microscopic objects and organisms, as if they were scientific artifacts. He adds, “The way the works will be installed is reminiscent of the ‘cabinet of curiosities’ under the Victorian era, during which a room was filled with a collection of specimens whose categorical boundaries and values were yet to be defined.”
Villamael believes the entire process has taught him to be more focused on a particular idea, and would like to continue experimenting with paper to maximize its creative potential.