I wouldn’t dare say we live in a nation where the youth are deemed apathetic. It’s heartening to know that many have been actively participating in advocacy campaigns but there are those rare individuals who are leading the pack. One of them is social activist and artist, Nikki Luna.
Nikki is the brains behind startART project—a non-government organization focused on Youth victims of Human Rights violations, abused and victims in war zones, using art as a means to help them cope up and deal with adversity.
As an artist, things took a turn early last year, after her work was sold at the Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings Spring Sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. She’s also done commissioned art work and portraits for celebrities including Liz Uy.
Nikki has always seen herself becoming an artist but most remarkable is how she put to good use—with a lot of heart—what she's always been good at. She is no signboard-carrying radical, but has canvases, buckets of paint, brushes and jeans that she rocks all the time.
Read on to know more about her and click on the photo gallery to see her style.
What exactly do you do?
[I’m a] full time artist. I like to do installation and conceptual art. I paint, too. I’m also the founder of startART Project, an NGO focused on art and therapy.
How did you get into this career path? Is this something you've always wanted?
I’ve always been creative. I knew I wanted to be an artist. While studying in UP Manila and Diliman—Political Science for about two years then shifting back to my first choice, which is Dine Arts major in Painting—I developed a strong social concern and eventually, my works revolved around this.
Being an artist, I’ve always thought of ways to increase awareness, sensitivity and concerns about relationships, female issues and society through my art. Being able to confront this "in the round" where an audience could actually experience it is something I've always wanted. Hence, the exhibits that attempt to call for interaction and reflection from the viewer.
The NGO came in the picture since I was committed to a lot of causes/issues—political and social commentaries that were expressed in my works. I felt I wanted to contribute further by having my own NGO on Art+Therapy which focuses on Youth victims of Human Rights violations, victims in war zones (Political and Military conflict in urban and rural areas).
I'd like to help the children who witnessed or experienced these brutalities and lost loved ones to wars and injustice to use art as a tool—Art as a means to learn and heal. Maybe it'll help them have the ability to hope and dream again despite facing adversity.