US-Based Nurse Hosts PH Flora Art Exhibit

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“Blooms,” an art exhibit featuring the luminous impressions of endemic and other Philippine flora by retired U.S.-based nurse and artist Julia Sumangil, recently opened at the Sining Makiling Gallery in the Los Baños campus of the University of the Philippines (UP).

A lumen print, an art form pioneered in the 1830s by William Henry Talbot, a British scientist and photography pioneer, is essentially a solar photogram or, generically, an image made using light from the Sun. Without using a camera, these printed images are created by holding organic objects such as flowers or plants on light-sensitive photo paper and exposing their parts to light.

Sumangil earned a degree in agriculture from UP Los Baños, where she majored in agronomy, and later served as a researcher for institutions including the Philippine Rice Research Institute and the Philippine Science Heritage Center.

She transitioned into nursing and emigrated to the United States in the late 1990s, and worked for nearly two decades as a registered nurse in the Bay Area.

Her personal journey into lumen printing began about nine years ago when, as an amateur photographer and gardener, she stumbled upon some beautiful prints in a Flickr group. She began studying the art form and experimenting with local flowers and plants from her garden or other places she visited.

Lumen artist Julia Sumangil with Dr. Jerry Yapo, Director of the University of the Philippines Los Baños Office for Initiatives in Culture and Art

“I am constantly inspired by the ethereal and fragile beauty of flowers and plants in lumen prints,” Sumangil said when asked why she focused on this form of expression. “They gave me such joy that I was so constantly excited to create and experiment more with flowers that grew in the garden that I and my late husband, Patrick Rose, nurtured for many years. years around our home in Oakland.”

Late last year, the highly respected international art printing magazine Petala featured Sumangil’s floral prints in a special edition. One of her featured works eventually landed on the cover of Petala.

“Mussaenda Philippica Dona Luz” (Endemic)

When she arrived in the Philippines in February to visit her family, Sumangil received an invitation from the Office of Cultural and Artistic Initiatives at UP Los Baños, through its director, Dr. Jerry Y. Yapo, to mount an exhibit that would focus on the flora endemic to the Philippines. . She traveled to different parts of the Philippines in order to create a vibrant yet unique display of various flowers and plants endemic to the Philippines.

Recently retired from her nursing career, Sumangil dedicates her time to lumen printing and is also a photographer, certified diver, researcher, cactus grower, conservationist and tireless traveler.

Sumangil’s Light Prints exhibit at the Sining Makiling Gallery at the UP Los Baños campus in Laguna runs through August 5.

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