By Monique Trinidad – Toda

Proud to Be ! HS 83!

When she was in her teens, I would espy Tessa Mendoza sketching at the back of her notebooks in class. She would draw anatomically correct horses and dogs which she was into that at that age. We were 14 years old and first year high school at Assumption San Lorenzo. You could say that Tessa’s first audience at that time were other classmates and that was it. In time, I saw her bloom into a beautiful young woman. Beyond her physical beauty, she was introspective and had depth. Her quiet nature showed that there was more to her.

We went to the same school in college. We studied together, ate together, double dated and did what all young ladies do in their early twenties. It was a fun time. Tessa’s talent was a constant though and she never stopped developing her craft for drawing and painting. She mounted her first exhibit in 1987 after a watercolor painting workshop under Johan Salvosa. The exhibit was called “Nuances” and was a joint event with another lovely artist Marivic Rufino at the old Intercon. This was when her art extended beyond the eyes of her classmates providing exposure to a larger audience.

After this, like all of us, life took over. She moved to Vancouver, raised a family so her career in art took a hiatus. Though art took a backseat in her life, she never let go. Tessa would continue to sign up for workshops and classes in Canada, Italy and Manila. She still does this in order to grow and find more mediums to express her creativity and views. She has attended workshops in landscape, oil, and watercolor painting, pastel, drawing, drawing figures, sculpting, paper cutting and mono-printing. All these were under the helm of noted artists.

As creativity cannot be postponed or suspended for long, Tessa made a comeback in 2014 when she returned to Manila. Her exhibit was called “Gracia” at the Raffles Makati. It was an anticipated exhibit with art lovers the late Washington Sycip, Ambassador Bienvenido Tantoco, and Lopez patriarch Oscar Lopez as guests of honor. This was followed by a number of various solo and joint exhibits namely: “Ebb and Flow”, “Sea Expo”, “Manila Art”, “Enhancing the Light”, and “Philippine Portraits Society Manila”.

Tessa’s latest exhibit was called “Scripture and Soul”. I asked Tessa what her inspiration for this theme was. “My deep fascination for holy scripture. I’ve been reading scripture since 1986 and it never ceases to amaze me. It’s dynamic, it’s effective, reflective, both mysterious and perceptible. In the book of Hebrews 4:12 it says ‘For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’ “. 
The stunning exhibit collection makes use of acrylic and gold leaf as mediums. She will also have a series of fascinating one line drawings.

Alfredo “Ding” Roces, noted artist and writer, shares his thoughts about “Scripture and Soul”. “Elegance, simplicity, and graceful rhythm—these are what a viewer immediately senses in Tessa Mendoza’s current solo exhibit. The paintings breathe a quiet spirituality.” He continues, “While the spiritual message in Mendoza’s exhibit is clearly the moving element that motivates the artist, her creative process focuses on lines and color. Her one line drawing series are statements delivered with one continuously flowing rhythmic gesture, almost as though she were holding her breath. The acrylic on gold leaf painting series, on the other hand, are carefully crafted images that range from the highly figurative to geometric patterns, to the totally abstract. Making use of a wide aesthetic vocabulary, —one that shifts from the loosely playful to the contemplative— she engages in richly varied visual expressions inspired by holy scripture.”.

It has been a privilege to witness Tessa evolve from a young girl drawing on her school notebooks to a transcendental artist depicting what is closest to her heart.