Jan Elaine Soriano on Art as an Empowerment and Stress Antidote

A neuroscience Ph.D. student and a self-taught artist, Jan Elaine Soriano knows how to balance creativity and the sciences in her life. She uses art to explore and paint what her work in the sciences couldn’t provide her—a stress antidote. That’s how and why she found herself painting and producing artworks that are full of life and vibrant colors.

What only started as her stress outlet with borrowed art materials from her younger sister becomes a source of positivity—not only for her but for others as well. Now, she has a supportive community of art lovers who commissioned her work—may it be a hand-painted bag with majestic mountains of Alberta, botanical-inspired, and Filipino culture-infused acrylic paintings, or even a huge mural.

Filipino culture on her artwork

Aside from her tropical paintings, Jan Elaine has a Filipino art collection—full of blissful moments or elements that would remind one of the simple but endearing life in the Philippines. Jan Elaine would describe it as “positive nostalgia”.

She made a collection after a trip to the Philippines. After that trip, she promised herself to visit her home country at least once a year—then, the pandemic happened. To relive those moments and her childhood spent in the Philippines with her relatives, also with encouragement from her family, she decided to use the quarantine time illustrating her fondness for Filipino culture. She wanted to feel that positive nostalgia of being in the Philippines whenever she looks at her paintings.

And that’s what her favorite painting, “Lunch with Lola”, is all about. It’s a tribute to her grandmothers, with their special Filipino delicacies—the sinigang and the pinakbet. She remembered, back when her family was still living in the Philippines, they would visit their grandparents in Laguna every weekend. They would spend the whole weekend with them with food her grandmother would make, which she claimed to be made with some magic. Now, every time she sees those Filipino delicacies, she remembers them and those moments. And all the positive feelings that come with it.

Art as her empowerment

That’s why she feels empowered whenever she paints. And she wants her pieces to share those positive feelings to whoever will see. And hopefully, they would feel empowered too:

“I feel empowered when I express myself through art. I’m able to tell a story about my cultured or my childhood that I took for granted. The jeepney, the baby bus… I appreciate them deeply. But it’s only now I illustrate it for other people. I hope through my artwork they would feel positive vibes. [Especially] with what’s going on right now. That’s why I include vibrant colors and [happy] scenarios.”

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