The clay sculptures of Naomi Mendoza at first glance appear fragile and traditionally feminine. She creates pieces of fine china, flowers, and candy—delicate items to be treated with care, painted in soft colors like pinks and baby blues. Upon closer inspection, an edgier side reveals itself, filled with trauma, anger, and desire. Hands reach out for help as if from a drowning body. Messages like “help me” are written discreetly across the surface. These cheery little clay figures clearly come from a very dark place.
乍看之下，Naomi Mendoza 泥塑作品精致得有点脆弱，带着一股传统女性的柔弱气息。她创作的精美的瓷器、鲜花、糖果，各种精致的小玩意，涂上粉色和淡蓝色这些柔和的色彩，让人想要小心呵护。但走近细看，这些泥塑作品又显露出其不安的一面，似在诉说创伤、愤怒和欲望。那些伸出的双手仿佛是溺水的人在求救，“help me”（救救我）几个字写满了雕塑表面。这些外表活泼可爱的小泥塑，显然背负着沉重的创作理念。
Mendoza grew up in Quezon City, near an art district filled with galleries and shops. Her parents were artists, yet their strict Catholicism meant Mendoza had a sheltered childhood: she wasn’t allowed to explore the city alone or freely pursue her artistic interests. “I liked to draw anatomy, but I never would have been able to freely show off an image of a vagina like I do now,” she says with a laugh. Only when she went to college did she meet other artists and discover the gallery scene in Metro Manila. “I’m very competitive, so it was great being surrounded by artists. I got so much better than I ever would have without it.”
Her first professional experience with sculptures came from a student job making customized bobblehead figurines. “The job was so boring,” she says. “But it helped me develop my skills. I used their process and materials for my own ideas.”
Naomi 从小在菲律宾的奎松城长大，生活在一个画廊和商店林立的艺术区。她的父母都是艺术家，但他们都是严格的天主教徒，所以从不让 Naomi 一个人去城市外面，也不让她自由地培养自己的艺术兴趣。“我喜欢画人体解剖图，但我永远都不可能像现在这样，能够自由地展示我画的阴道图像。”她笑着说道。直到上了大学，她才有机会认识其他艺术家，真正去探索马尼拉的艺术圈子。“我好胜心很强，所以能和那么多艺术家一样，我觉得特别棒，如果不是这样，我也不可能像现在进步这么大。”
Mendoza now works in her bedroom, sitting on a plush rug on the floor, kneading and molding the pieces by hand. She uses a toothpick-shaped bamboo stick to carve small details and paints the pieces with a makeup kit. Then she bakes them in a mini-oven and adds a matte gloss. She works without thinking too much in advance, molding a collection of shapes until an idea comes to her. “It’s very therapeutic,” she says of the process. Although the work is intuitive and she doesn’t set out to create dark or sexual sculptures, her work is an expression of her feelings. Vaginas peek discreetly out of pink flower petals, hiding in plain sight. What appears to be popsicles have cactus-like spines.
These elements in Mendoza’s work are signs of trauma. As she explains, she’s had to leave home due to her father’s physical abuse. Her uncles stepped in to help pay for school, but the trauma is still with her. “I’m very shy, but I definitely have an aggressive side. People who know me personally easily recognize that part of me in my work.”
这些作品的细节部分透露出 Naomi 创伤的痕迹。她说因为父亲的家暴，她不得不离家而去。她的叔叔帮她支付了学费，但这种创伤的阴影挥之不去。“我很害羞，但我也有大胆的一面。认识我的人看到我的作品就能看出这一点来。”
Learning to freely express oneself after years of tamping down desires and feelings takes time, and for many people, visual art is a valuable nonverbal outlet. For Mendoza, it’s a way to give difficult feelings a physical form. The size of her sculptures forces viewers to look closely and think about what it might mean. “I actually love creating very small works, because people have to get up close to really get a look,” she says. “It’s much more personal that way.”
经历多年压抑欲望和感觉之后，要学会自由表达自己是需要时间的。对于许多人来说，视觉艺术是一种珍贵的非语言输出，而对于 Naomi 来说，这让她得以通过有形的物品来表达心中的痛苦。精致的雕塑尺寸，使观众不得不仔细观察，思考其中的含义。她说：“我很喜欢创作小巧的作品，因为这样观众在看的时候就要走得特别近，让这个过程变得更私人。”