Pacita Abad

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Pacita Abad
Pacita Abad.jpg
Pacita Abad

October 5, 1946
DiedDecember 7, 2004(2004-12-07) (aged 58)
EducationCorcoran School of Art, Art Students League of New York
Known forPainting

Pacita Abad (October 5, 1946 – December 7, 2004) is an Ivatan and Filipino visual artist. She was born in Basco, Batanes, a small island in the northernmost part of the Philippines, between Luzon and Taiwan. Her more than 30-year painting career began when she traveled to the United States to undertake graduate studies. She exhibited her work in over 200 museums, galleries and other venues, including 75 solo shows, around the world. Abad's work is now in public, corporate and private art collections in over 70 countries.

Personal Life and Education[edit]

Ati-Atihan (1983). Acrylic on stitched and padded canvass.

Abad earned a BA in political science at the University of the Philippines Diliman in 1967. In 1970, she went to the United States intending to study law, but instead earned a degree (MA) in Asian History at Lone Mountain College (University of San Francisco) in 1972 where she supported herself as a seamstress and a typist.[1] Abad studied painting at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. and The Art Students League in New York City. She lived on 6 different continents and worked in more than 50 countries,[2] including Guatemala, Mexico, India, Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan, Mali, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and Indonesia. At Corcoran School of Art Pacita studied under Berthold Schmutzhart[3] and Blaine Larson in which the two professors had helped launch her artistic career. Pacita then further pursued her studies at The Art Students League in New York where she concentrated on still life and figurative drawing under John Helicker and Robert Beverly Hale.

Filipina: A racial identity crisis (1990). Acrylic, handwoven cloth, dyed yarn, beads, gold thread on stitched and padded canvass. The painting is considered as Abad's greatest work on canvass.
The Painted Bridge in Singapore is believed to be Abad's last creation before succumbing to cancer.

During Pacita's time in San Francisco art scene she had married painter George Kleiman, though they later separated. She then decided to travel for art scenes across Asia for a year with Jack Garrity, and then returned to the U.S. to study painting, first at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C. and later, at The Art Students League in New York City. While in California, she then married Stanford MBA student, Jack Garrity, who became an international development economist.[4]


Her early paintings were primarily figurative socio-political works of people and primitive masks. Another series was large scale paintings of underwater scenes, tropical flowers and animal wildlife. Pacita's most extensive body of work, however, is her vibrant, colorful abstract work - many very large scale canvases, but also a number of small collages - on a range of materials from canvas and paper to bark cloth, metal, ceramics and glass. Abad created over 4,500 artworks.[5] She painted a 55-meter long Alkaff Bridge in Singapore and covered it with 2,350 multicolored circles, just a few months before she died.

Abad developed a technique of trapunto painting (named after a quilting technique), which entailed stitching and stuffing her painted canvases to give them a three-dimensional, sculptural effect.[6] She then began incorporating into the surface of her paintings materials such as traditional cloth, mirrors, beads, shells, plastic buttons and other objects

Pacita had also received numerous awards during her artistic career in which her most memorable award was her first. Pacita had received the TOYM Award for Art in the Philippines in 1984.[7] Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) is an award that has always been given to men for the last 25 years until in 1984 where Pacita Abad became the first woman ever to receive this prestigious award. In Pacita receiving this award it had created a public uproar where angry letters sent to editors of published newspapers from men and male artists who thought that they, not Pacita, should have received the award. Despite such uproar Pacita was thrilled that she had broken the sex barrier in which she stated in her acceptance speech that “it was long overdue that Filipina women were recognized, as the Philippines was full of outstanding women” and referred proudly to her mother.

Awards and Recognition[edit]

  • "Parangal for Pacita Abad" - in memory of the late international artist, National Museum of the Philippines, January 2005
  • "Art in Embassies - Indonesia", United States Department of State, September 2001
  • "Pamana Ng Pilipino Award" for outstanding achievement in the arts, given by the President of the Philippines, Manila, June 2000
  • "Plaque of Recognition to Pacita B. Abad, Ivatan Painter, Internationally Acclaimed Artist", from the Province of Batanes, 2000
  • "Eighth Annual Mayor's Arts Awards", one of the finalists, Washington, DC, September 1998
  • "Filipina Firsts", a compendium of 100 Filipino women who have broken ground in their fields of endeavor organized by the Philippine American Foundation in Manila and Washington, D.C., June 1998
  • "Likha Award", marking the Centennial of Philippine Independence, given in recognition of outstanding achievement, June 1998
  • "Art in Embassies - Philippines", United States Department of State, February 1996
  • "Excellence 2000 Awards for the Arts", given by U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. (Website, May 1995
  • New York State Council on the Arts Grant for Visiting Artists Program at Amuan, 1993
  • "Gwendolyn Caffritz Award", given by the Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts, June 1992
  • "Mid-Atlantic Arts Regional Fellowship", USA, June 1992
  • "D.C. Commission on the Arts Award", June 1990
  • "MetroArt II Award: Six Masks from Six Continents", 5 painting mural installed at Metro Center, Washington, D.C., June 1990
  • "National Endowment for the Arts", Visual Arts Fellowship, 1989 to 1990, June 1989
  • "D.C. Commission on the Arts Award", June 1989
  • "TOYM Award" for the Most Outstanding Young Artist in the Philippines, June 1984


She established a unique trapunto technique in painting, and has influenced numerous art scholars throughout her lifetime. She is one of the few of her generation to have received numerous international awards in the field of painting. Many of her works have been acquired and prized by numerous art museums in Tokyo, Paris, London, Singapore, San Francisco, New York City, Hong Kong, and Manila, among many others. Her art has been in the national collections of at least 70 countries worldwide. The Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge in Basco, Batanes, "was lovingly refurbished" by her brother, Butch Abad.[8]


"I always see the world through color, although my vision, perspective and paintings are constantly influenced by new ideas and changing environments. I feel like I am an ambassador of colors, always projecting a positive mood that helps make the world smile."[9]

- Pacita Abad

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Pacita Abad; M Teresa Lapid Rodriguez; Montclair State University Art Galleries. Palay (rice) : Trapunto murals by Pacita Abad (Upper Montclair, N.J. : Montclair State University Art Galleries, 2001) OCLC 48787832
  • "Pacita Abad: Exploring the Spirit", Text by Ian Findlay-Brown (Hardcover, 1996), ISBN 979-95029-0-X, ISBN 978-979-95029-0-2
  • "Pacita Abad: Abstract Emotions", Text by Alice Guillermo (Hardcover, 1998), ISBN 978-979-95424-0-3
  • "Pacita Abad: Door to Life", Text by James T. Bennett (Hardcover, 1999), ISBN 978-979-95029-1-9
  • "Pacita Abad: The Sky is the Limit", Text by Tay Swee Lin (Hardcover, 2001), ISBN 978-981-04-3407-6
  • "Pacita Abad: Endless Blues", Text by Ian Findlay-Brown (Hardcover, 2002), ISBN 978-981-04-7128-6
  • "Pacita Abad: Circles in My Mind", Text by Cid Reyes (Hardcover, 2003), ISBN 978-981-04-9418-6
  • "Pacita Abad: Obsession", Text by Ian Findlay-Brown and Ruben Defeo (Hardcover, 2004), ISBN 978-981-05-1549-2
  • "Pacita's Painted Bridge", Photos by Michael Liew, text by Jack Garrity (Hardcover, 2004), ISBN 978-981-05-1020-6
  • "A Passion to Paint: The Colorful World of Pacita Abad", Text by Jack Garrity (Paperback, 2004)


  1. ^ "Brooklyn Museum: Pacita Abad". Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  2. ^ "Pacita Abad: Woman of Color". Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  3. ^ "All-Media Exhibit - Sept 2009 - The Art League - Alexandria, VA". Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  4. ^ Thelma B. Kintanar, Sylvia Mendez Ventura, Self-Portraits 2: Fourteen Filipina Artists Speak (Ateneo de Manila University Press 1999): pp. 3-22.
  5. ^ "Pacita Abad: Woman of Color". Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  6. ^ Luquin, Elisabeth. "Pacita Abad". Editions des femmes. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  7. ^ "Pacita Abad: Woman of Color". Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  8. ^ "Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge, Basco, Batanes, Philippines". Fundacion Pacita. Retrieved 2013-04-26.
  9. ^ "A Passion to Paint: The Colorful World of Pacita Abad". The World Bank, Art Program Exhibition & Events. Retrieved 2013-04-26.

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