Palmarin Merges (she/her) is a Filipina born in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, who moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2005.
“Taking lithographs I made in grad school, collagraphs I made in Japan, monoprints and screenprints created in Oregon and incorporating concentric circular cut fabric and the technique of sewing by machine and hand and embellishing them with embroidery and thread, I explore the material quality of the fabric and the means by which the paper and cloth are connected.
Time as a circle is pictured in the rings of a tree. Each passing year is embedded in the bark and enfolded within its trunk as the tree grows. Tightly grouped lines express slow growth, drought or lack of sunlight; abundance is seen in rings that are broad and wide. In the case of these pieces, though not necessarily in chronological order, each ring refers to a place in my timeline as an artist. Each year the artwork that I make changes a little depending upon where my interest takes me. By building upon and using previous imagery, I acknowledge the past without burdening the present and always going back to the beginning.”
Because the Hawaiʻi-Pacific Northwest diaspora is by no means limited to just those of Native Hawaiian ancestry, we wished to include work by artists with ties to other communities as well. Merges’ work as a Filipina artist is closely linked to her resiliency moving through different spaces and time, which is something our Pasifika communities have found strength in regardless of how far from home they are. Likening these abstract forms to the growth rings of trees, we saw a profound link to the ways our communities find strength, resilience, and beauty even in the most challenging situations.