The Empty Chair Project at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila

The Empty Chair at the Metropolitan Museum

Chapter 2: The Empty Chair Project, is the second major exhibition of The Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation, Inc (VAHHFI) and a new collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. This will be on 12 November 2019, Tuesday

The exhibit is for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, and of selected mental health advocacy groups, namely: Anxiety and Depression Support Philippines, Buhay Movement, Silakbo and #MentalHealthPh, as well as to support VAHHFI’s healthcare initiative for practicing visual artists and artist support practitioners like curators, art critics, art professors, and established gallery workers and other support professions. 

Chapter 2: The Empty Chair Project serves as the VAHHFI’s inaugural launch and coming out event, following its initial 2017 exhibition by its founding members to raise funds primarily for visual artists’ welfare and hospitalization assistance, which resulted in the eventual creation of the foundation. 

The Empty Chair Project at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila


“Creating and registering the foundation took two years,” shared sculptor and founding member Daniel Dela Cruz, who spearheaded the initiative of putting together both the initial exhibition and the foundation, “it is the artists in service of other artists and those in the community.”

“That is the VAHHFI’s contribution to Philippine art. Since the foundation is something bigger than any individual artist, it will surely stand the test of time as artists continue to pay it forward,” he expounded.

Chapter 2: The Empty Chair Project expands VAHHFI’s reach and generating awareness not only among the visual arts community but among the general public.  More than providing collectors a chance to purchase unique artworks is the opportunity to help not just the artists but the professionals who support the artists in the visual art ecosystem.

The Empty Chair Project at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila


Using “The Empty Chair” as a visual metaphor, the exhibit tackles the current and timely subject of Mental Health, and the idea that art heals.

VAHHFI challenged the crème de la crème of the Philippine visual arts scene to interpret, translate, and realize what an empty chair means and to conceptualize a chair series that embody the message of “hope, kindness, and positivity to all.” 

By providing them with designer chairs and stools sourced from BoConcept and Casa Bella to work on, the artists not only to provide “support” to those suffering from anxiety, depression, and similar psychological issues but also to engender and encourage mental fitness as a part of one’s own overall well-being. 

The Empty Chair at the Metropolitan Museum

“In as much as our foundation focuses on physical fitness, mental fitness should also be part of our regimen to protect and safeguard our overall well-being,” explained Dela Cruz.

“We spend time and energy exercising and going to the gym, but we also need to remember to take time to relax, de-stress, and rest our minds and our soul.  Art and all creative endeavors soothe the soul and nourish it,” he continued.  

This much-awaited biennial gathering of creative minds and generous spirits to produce one-of-a-kind masterpieces worthy of collectors discriminating tastes to pool enough money for VAHH’s medical endowment funds.

This indeed embodies VAHHFI’s raison d’etre and philosophy as its flagship program: To give back to the visual arts community by providing funds to institutional partners and medical assistance to members of the visual arts community.

The Empty Chair Project at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila


The biggest health charity art-and-design event for the visual arts community revolving on the theme of chairs, Chapter 2 is participated in by Leo Abaya, Fruit juice Factory Studio with Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan, Annie Cabigting, Valeria Cavestany, Charlie Co, Louie Cordero, Jayson Cortez, Marina Cruz, Kawayan de Guia, Antipas “Biboy” Delotavo, Dexter Fernandez, Dino Gabito, Nona Garcia, Guerrero “RG” Habulan, Gregory Halili, Riel Hilario, Nilo Ilarde, Pete Jimenez, Erwin Leaño, Raul Lebajo, Luis Lorenzana, Gene Paul Martin, Jason Montinola, Leeroy New, Rando Onia, Jim Orencio, Bernie Pacquing, Lynyrd Paras, Richard Quebral, Marc Aran Reyes, Jose Tence “Bogie” Ruiz, Stanley Ruiz, Luis Santos, Ciron Señeres, Rodel Tapaya, and MM Yu. 

Ricky Francisco was tapped by VAHHFI to curate the exhibition with Metropolitan Museum of Manila’s team headed by Tina Colayco, who expressed pride and gratitude in having been an integral part of Chapter 2: The Empty Chair Project.

“We fully support the mission of the VAHHF and express solidarity in their advocacies in promoting healthcare initiatives and extending medical assistance specifically for those in need from the local arts and culture community,” Colayco shared.

“It is a meaningful exhibition with a powerful metaphor and message on mental health awareness and related help.  The participation of so many generous artists in this exhibition without any doubt conveys an equally forceful expression of empathy for others and unity for a cause,” she further explained.

“We sincerely thank VAHHF President, Mr. Daniel dela Cruz, and the VAHH Board of Trustees for working with the Metropolitan Museum of Manila for this project, and for their support for the museum and its education programs. The museum acknowledges its appreciation to the exhibition curator Ricky Francisco and exhibition designer Ar. Jonathan Dangue who have worked very closely with the Met Museum team for Chapter 2: The Empty Chair exhibition,” Colayco closed.

Providing Medical Aid to the Visual Arts Community

Dr Joven Cuanang, chairman of the VAHHI being a medical doctor, with Dr. Steve Lim on the Medical Team, has enabled the organization to evaluate the health needs of applicants from the visual arts community—not just members—and recommend medical interventions to benefit everyone in the field including art critics, art writers, and art professors.

Chapter 2: The Empty Chair Project will run from November 12, 2019, Tuesday, to January 31, 2020, Friday—with the opening reception on November 12—at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex along Roxas Boulevard, Manila. The project is supported by Meralco, PLDT, AXA, Casa Bella and Bo Concept.  For more information, visit metmuseum.ph, call +632 708 7828, or email us at info@metmuseum.ph. Check out, too, VAHHFI’s website www.visualartshelpinghands.org for updates, news, and application information.

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