Je Armie was washing the dishes when an empty plastic bottle of dishwashing liquid caught his attention, an idea at the same time running through his head that it could might as well be turned into a flower vase or transformed into a piece of art. It was the start of an artful curiosity that has motivated the 21-year old aspiring local artist to pursue his craft with passion.
Je Armie Mondragon, is currently working as service technician in one of the automobile dealers located in Palawan for nine months. In a talk with Palawan News, he recalled how he stumbled into the arts.
“Kapag gabi, gumagawa ako niyan minsan inaabot ako ng 12:00 hanggang 3:00 am tapos tulog lang ako kaunti saka pasok na naman. Ganon nang ganon lang, maliban doon, gumagawa rin ako ng paintings,” he said.
After getting home from work, he spends a few hours carving plastic bottles into art pieces. His most recent work was a bronze-colored fish he made out of a dish washing plastic bottle.
Since grade school, Je Armie had been joining art contests such as paintings and been an active cartoonist to their campus paper. He said that the last time he had showcased his art works was in 2014 and after high school, he focused on being a working student to enroll in vocational programs.
“Yong mga (nakaimpluwensya) ay mga sikat din, nagbabasa rin ako sila, Leonardo da Vinci, mga magagaling na artists. Nong nag-aaral ako, naging part time ko rin ‘yan na gumuhit-guhit,” he said.
Je Armie says that using plastic bottles as his main material made him realize the amount of plastic waste everywhere.
“Yong mga plastic na pakalat-kalat, nakakalungkot. Iyong mga plastic natin ay hindi natin kontrolado, kung makakagawa pa ako, makakatulong ako na mas makabawas din,” he said.
On his first art piece out of plastic bottle, Je Armie spent eight hours to carve his art piece using soldering iron.
He says that his art works are more inspired by nature. Recently, he has began experimenting using the extract of the fruit from the balayong tree for his paintings. This material produces a hue close to the color of coffee.
Je Armie says that one of his struggles is balancing his time from work and making art piece during his free time.
“Mahirap din gumawa ng paintings na walang financial, pambiling pintura, kailangan din ng pera. Kung gusto talaga nila sa career, huwag nila pabayaan kung anong meron sila, yong talent nila. Huwag nila sayangin ang pagkakataon,” he said.
Je Armie is currently affiliated with a group of local artists in Palawan, Guhit Pinas. He posts his art works online to show and help others who want to do the same piece he had done.