Essays & Reviews   

Stacey Uradomo-Barre

"In Her House...Tahanan… Her Room”, it is impossible for the visitor to separate his/her own experiences of dealing with aging loved ones, or to extricate him/herself emotionally from the painful installation. By allowing the visitor unrestricted entrance into such a private world, Acebo Davis provokes a raw and visceral emotional response, engendering an intense and inextricable relationship between subject, artist and visitor. The installation's efficacy lies in its ability to grab hold of the viewer, body and soul and not let go. When the visitor departs from the space, s/he is haunted by lingering images and phrases and left to ponder his/her own aging and mortality as well as the fate of loved ones.

 Excerpt from exhibition catalog “Construct/s:   Installations by Asian Pacific American Women Artists"      Terry Acebo Davis, Yong Soon Min, Lynne Yamamoto, Kaili Chun, Tamiko Thiel with Midori Kono
 Stacey Urodomo-Barre, Curator and Catalog Essays, Contemporary Art Historian
 May 2015 - April 2016 Wing Luke Museum  Seattle, Washington


Mark Van Proyen 

Layered Connections: The Art of Terry Acebo Davis

Collage is an unmasking of art and life as they grope
toward new systems of self-reference
Donald Kuspit on “Collage: The Organizing Principal of Art “

Whether it be realized in the form of an intimate work on paper or in a room-sized
tableaux, the multi-disciplinary works of Terry Acebo Davis always challenge their
viewers to look and think deeply. It also rewards that look, although not every
reward is to be found in every piece. For example, in a lithograph titled Kanin
(1993), we see two rather stern male faces peering out from what appears to be
a still-life set up on a shelf. Other elements include a clearly labeled package of
rice, and a pair of shoes--traditional slippers of the type that are common
footwear in rural areas of the Philippines. Seeming to dangle below the shelf are
a pair of unopened envelopes, perhaps being the containers of tidings glad or not
so glad. Distressing news from a far off land? Perhaps they are avowals from a
voyaging lover, or maybe the are just false alarms teasing our grand
expectations, only turning out to contain some of the mundane correspondences
that clutter all of our lives. The fact that we can never know for sure adds to the
mystery and intrigue of the piece; we are inevitably left to juggle partial clues to
its beguiling story. Partially revealed and partially concealed, the image may in
fact be a kind of shrine to particular individuals or a generalized every person, a
stand-in and poetically mingled memory-marker for all who see their identity as
being some kind of hybrid, which in these post-metaphoric days is pretty much

Other works from this period have more identifiable faces--one can see Jackson
Pollock, and others seem to have come from encyclopedia portraits or medical
text books. The important point is that they don’t really stand out from the other
elements in the compositions, which are all unwaveringly elegant in the way that
they use gestural calligraphy and evocatively recontextualized fragments taken
from everyday life to achieve a pitch-perfect balance point between isolated
incidents and compositional totalities. This observation is significant because,
even though Acebo-Davis was trained as a printmaker, it is clear that her artistic
thinking is most significantly informed by that uniquely 20th century idiom known
as collage. Juxtaposition and enlargement are the chief features of this visual
vocabulary, and Acebo-Davis uses both to excellent effect. To these she also
adds an additional facet, that being a kind of estheticisized recovery, restoration
and reconfirmation of memory as it relates to the materials that she uses. Like an
intrepid archeologist or a detective sifting through clues to reconstruct a bygone
moment, her graphic and collage works always succeed in restoring what might
seem to be a bygone order, rediscovering something that was and will again be
venerable, oftentimes snatched from the forgetful jaws of stylistic chaos even as
it is also liberated from the incarceration of rigid categorizations.

It should be emphasized here that collage not simply the gluing together of
different types of paper; rather it is a mode of visual thought that may well
represent the only real artistic innovation of 20th century art. In many ways, its
processes echo and are even emblematic of an experience that has been
fragmented by too much media representation; that is, too much information
pretending to be experience. In other words, its inherent strategies of
juxtaposition, annotation and parody can be seen as simulating and conveying
the absurd recognition of having one’s sense of self-experience translated into
quantifiable information. Post-Modernists have run wild with these aspects of
collage-thinking, in part because they are clear (albeit uncanny) mirrorings of the
way that writing itself operates, hence their deep faith in Jacques Lacan’s dictum
that “the unconscious is structured like a language.” But that dictum cuts two
ways, for just as much 20th century collage work renders the world as an
“explosion in a shingle factory,” so too does it offer an opportunity to put the
fragments back together into a more functional--that is, democratically respectful
order. This is where Acebo-Davis’ work makes its most forceful contribution, for
even though we see within it much in the way of discontinuous juxtaposition, so
too do we realize that their discontinuities exist to be overcome by more profound
gestures of recontinuity; that is, of taking given disjunctions and finding within
them opportunities for new conjunctions that allow for the (re-)cognition of
important centers of psychological gravity

A good example of how Acebo-Davis harnesses this process can be found in
a1994 assemblage titled "Recuerdos" (which translates as "Memories"). Its basis
is a rosewood typesetter’s drawer that the artist found at a flea market, here
pressed into service as a complex picture frame. In its tight compartments
Acebo-Davis has placed some old family photographs, which are in fact official
immigration photos of her mother and aunts taken at the end of World War, each
a poignant testament to the courage of immigrants who have come to a new
place to build a better life. The box was then covered with industrial glass
fastened down with copper screws and washers made from Lincoln pennies,
offering a wry comment on the real cost of liberty in a world that requires hardearned
money to pay for it. Here, the typesetter’s drawer subtlety participates in
the completion of the work’s meaning by suggestively conflating a Mondrianesque
grid with the bars of a “typecaster’s” prison, even as it is also suggests
something that we might be tempted to close and forget, subtly implicating the
viewer in an act of uncharitable dismissal of people who deserve better than our
acts of stereotyping might allow. Perhaps the important point made by this work
is that its diverse images and elements are transformed through a kind of
alchemical sorcery that takes them from life and then deposits them into a
idealized memory palace, where they become more than what they were, even
as they also tend to withhold as much as they reveal.

When collage-thinking outgrows the picture frame, it is often called
Assemblage, or even Installation Art, but Acebo Davis prefers the more
descriptive term Tableaux. One of her most memorable accomplishments in
this vein is Dahil So Yo (Because of You) (1997) which features the almost lifesized
repetition of six large photographically enlarged images of the artist’s
mother (at age 16), standing side-by-side and printed on checkered tablecloth. In
front of these images are five wooden produce crates and one platform, each
displaying an elevated pair of shoes ranging from white baby shoes to a pair of
stylish red pumps leading on a pair of orthopedic sandals. A seventh pair of
shoes sits on the floor to the right of the boxes, and in front of the whole
arrangement are two vessels, one containing salt and the other Holy Water,
clearly representing the alpha and omega of a life lived.. One cannot help be
reminded of the famous “all the world’s a stage” soliloquy from the second act of
Shakespeare’s As You Like It, especially via the work’s evocation of “the wide
and universal theater” where all “have their entrances and their exits” and “play
many parts.” Perhaps most importantly, the work itself plays the part of “mother of
our emotions,” even as it guilelessly recognizes that a real person lives at the
core of that role. Given the many and endless deceptions that make up much of
our world, it is a recognition that we would do well to embrace.

Mark Van Proyen, Art Critic
Bolinas, California 2002


Reena Jana

In the mid-1990s, when Terry Acebo Davis was first gaining momentum in terms
of her visibility as an artist, contemporary critics, curators, and scholars were heavily engaged in the discourse on "identity politics." Acebo Davis's formally complex, intellectually intriguing prints and installations, which allude to her Filipina-American heritage as well as recognizable antecedents in modern art (Warhol, Rauschenberg), seemed to address the then "hot" issue of identity in a manner that was both subtle and strong, erudite and elegant. Looking at Acebo Davis's ouevre now, one realizes that her work was not only timely, but also is timeless.

A decade ago, her focus on her ethnic background and choices of media
(appropriated photographs, custom paper made from Filipino cogon grass), could be seen as a brave and meticulous exploration of identity. Today, her references to both her Filipinaness and her Americanness, as well as her consistent use of fragmented forms and multiples (collage-like compositions, installations, prints), can be seen not only as such, but also as highly effective metaphors for the postmodern condition itself. Thus, Acebo Davis's work takes on an even more profound, more universal context.

To be Filipina, as to be American, is by nature to be post-modern. Both the
Filipina self and the American self are fragmented, multifaceted, inter- and transnational. To examine oneself as a so-called hyphenated American--as Acebo Davis does, and as all Americans must at some point in the quest for self-knowledge--is to further analyze, accept, and understand an already multidimensional self. In an age in which the catchphrase is now "globalism," in which one's nationality (Filipina, American, or otherwise) is constantly shifting and being redefined on a world stage that is paradoxically both shrinking and expanding, the issues raised in Acebo Davis's work take on a new context and prove that her work transcends the era in which she first began to explore the themes she is known for.

Her chosen media articulates these concepts in a manner that complements the
content presented (lessons taken from textbooks used to teach Americans the Filipino language Ilokano, for example, or images of Filipino military veterans, which convey the struggle between the two sides of a hyphenated self) in a highly sophisticated manner. Her use of the print as a primary media, used artistically from medieval times by Albrecht Durer and others to disseminate images to large audience, implies a sense of widespread communication, and suggests that the very specificity of her imagery actually has popular resonance. Her decision to create installations, or tableaux, as she calls them, indicates not only the adaptation of a current artistic lingua franca but also underscores the very palpability, the very realness, of the Filipinos' classic American diasporic experience, as well as the true ephemerality of one's oft-perceived to be
"solid" identity. Rather than working on canvas--a more "unique" and rarified form-- or with video--which is more constant and unchanging than an installation-- Acebo Davis has effectively chosen to make her media part of her powerful messages. They are messages consisting of nuanced layers that can only appreciate and be further appreciated with time.

Reena Jana, Art Critic
New York, NY  2004


Vitae  / Terry Acebo Davis


Art is a way of recognizing oneself which is why it will always be modern - Louise Bourgeois

Exhibitions           Selected

2015   Wing Luke Museum, Seattle WA  "Constructs" Curated by Stacie Uradomo-Barre with Artists:  Yong Soon Min, Lynne Yamamoto, Kaili Chun, Tamiko Thiel w/ Midori Kono   Catalog/ Smith Anderson Editions, Palo Alto, CA  "Books" Curated by Paula Kirkeby

2014   Artik San Jose, CA  "Anniversary of South Bay Area Artists" Curated by Kathryn Funk

2012  Smith Anderson Editions, Palo Alto, CA  "Gender Specific" Curated by Paula Kirkeby Including Artists Hung Liu, Judy Dater, Kira Walker, Helen Frankenthaler, Ashlie Benton, Miriam Shapiro, Niki de Saint Phalle

2010  Bill Gould Design and Architecture, San Jose, CA "Print Retrospective with Artists:   Don Fritz, Roert Ortbal, Margaret Rinkovsky & Shelby Smith"

2009  Triton Museum, Santa Clara, CA  "Tri-age" Solo Exhibition Curated by Preston Metcalf & George Rivera / De Young Museum's Kimball Gallery San Francisco, CA  "A Space of Her Own" with Asian American Women in Art

2008  Krause Center for Innovation Gallery at Foothill College, Los Altos, CA "Tortilla Curtain Project" Group Exhibition, Invited Guest Artist,  Curated by Kent Manske

2007   Ayala Foundation, Redwood City, CA  "Gawa sa Belgium" Solo Exhibition / University of San Francisco Thatcher Gallery, San Francisco, CA "From Hedonopolis to Melancolony" Curated by Rico Reyes / SOMA San Francisco, CA "Overmapped" Curated by Carlos Villa / Smith Anderson Editions, Palo Alto, CA  "Dealer's Choice" Curated by Paula Kirkeby

2006  Contemporary Museum of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI  "Contemporary Filipino American Artists" Curated by Allison Wong / National Academy Museum, New York, NY "181st Invitational of Contemporary Art" / Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto, CA "Out of the Box" / Pacific Art League, Palo Alto, CA "Pacific Prints Competition" Juried by Joseph Zirker

2005  Cabrillo College Gallery, Aptos, CA  "Tracing Rituals" Solo Exhibition

2004  Asian Art Museum Samsung Hall, San Francisco, CA  "Tabing Rising" Solo Exhibition / Stanford University - Institute on Women & Gender, Stanford, CA  "Anatomy of Spirit"  Solo Exhibition

2003  Babilonia 1808, Berkeley, CA  "Diwata" Solo Exhibition / Triton Museum, Santa Clara, CA Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowship Awardee Fellows Exhibition

2002   Antwerp Center, Antwerp, Belgium "Global Dialogue" Curator Veerle Rooms

2001  San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, CA "Pinoy / Pinay" with Artists Minerva Amistoso and Fred Lagapa / Washington Square Gallery, San Francisco, CA "Nepal and Back" Solo Exhibition

2000  Luggage Store, San Francisco, CA "Bae" Curated by Carlos Villa

1999  WORKS Art and Performance, San Jose, CA  "To Be..." Installation collaboration with Artist Gwen Wilson

1998  Bronx Museum of Art, New York City, NY  "Balikbayan Box:  Tracing a Strain" with DIWA  Arts / Galeria de La Raza, San Francisco, CA "Destiny Manifesting" with DIWA Arts / San Francisco State University Fine Arts Gallery, San Francisco, CA  "Sino Ka Ano Ka" with Artists Eliza Barrios, Reanne Estrada, Stephanie Syjuco, Lucille Tenazas, Catherine Wagner, Jennifer Wofford / Museo Ng Maynila, Manila, Philippines "Babaylan" Curated by Mark Johnson & Carlos Villa

1996  Boom Gallery, Honolulu, HI "Of the Body" Solo Exhibition / East-West Gallery at University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI  "Kayumanggi Presence 1996" Curated by Jeff Baysa  Catalog/ UC Irvine Fine Arts Galery to Plugin Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba "Memories of Overdevelpment: Philippine Diaspora in Contemporary Visual Art" with DIWA Arts  Catalog / Capp Street Project, San Francisco, CA "Art in the Urban Landscape - Bayanihan Transition" with DIWA Arts

1995  Richard Sumner Gallery, Palo Alto, CA "Cantho into Haarlem" Solo Exhibition / MACLA, San Jose, CA "Artists Respond to Proposition 187" / Philippine Consulate, Honolulu, HI  "Filipinas" Catalog / Loyola University Fine Arts Gallery, Los Angles, CA "LA Printmaking" Catalog/ Institute of Contemporary Art,  San Jose, CA "The Dresden Exchange" Curated by Katherine Levin-Lau / Gallerie Adlergasse. Dresden, Germany  "Bay Area Artists" Curated by Stefan Voight / Lucy Berman Gallery,  Palo Alto, CA  "Black and White"

1993  C.N. Gorman Gallery at University of California Davis, Davis, CA  "Time Echoes" / Academy of Art Linekona, Honolulu, HI  "Kayumanggi Presence 1993" Curated by Jeff Baysa and Charles Valoroso / Stuttgart International Airport, Stuttgart, Germany  "An American" / Walter Bischoff Gallery, Stuttgart, Germany "Printmakers" /Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA  "Works on Paper" Juried

1992  Simon and Schuster Publishers, Santa Clara, CA  "San Jose State University Art Faculty" / Reese Bullen Gallery at Humboldt State University Arcata, CA "Summer Artists Residency Exhibition" / Market Street Alternative Space, San Jose, CA  "The Fourth Floor"

1991  California State University Long Beach Fine Arts Gallery, Long Beach, CA   "New Printmakers Invitational" Juried

Awards and Residencies

2007  WORKS San Jose Euphrat Museum Juror's Award

2003  Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowship Award in Printmaking, Painting and Drawing

2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998  Frans Masereel Centrum - International Artist in Residence  Kasterlee, Belgium

2002  Community Foundation Silicon Valley Artist Grant for documentary: "Mabuhay with Equity, Filipino War Veterans of WWII"

2001  Arts Council of Silicon Valley Arts Builds Communities Grant for a Three Site Installation Project about Filipino Migration to the Bay Area, San Jose Northside and Eastside Community Centers and Richmond Health Care Center

2000  Dr. Jose Rizal Community Heroes Award presented by the Filipino American Opportunities Development Center,  San Jose, CA

1998  California Arts Council, Zellerbach Family Fund, Walter Alexander Gerbode Foundation Grants for publication of "Of Our Own Voice" for the Asian American Women in the Arts catalog, Art Director and Coordinator 

1997  James D. Phelan Award & Fellowship in Printmaking, awarded by the San Francisco Foundation and administered by Kala Art Institute  Berkeley, CA / Filipino American Arts Exposition Commission for "Walk in My Shoes"  Yerba Buena Art Center Gardens, San Francisco, CA / Radius Award and Exhibition at the Palo Alto Art Center,  Palo Alto, CA     Juried by Ruth Braunstein

1996  Eureka Award Nominee, San Francisco, CA / Gerbode Foundation and San Francisco Arts Commission Grants for Capp Street Project: Art in the Urban Landscape with DIWA Arts  San Francisco, CA

1995  Artist in Residence California State Universities Summer Arts - Alternative Print Processes with Guest Artists:  Mildred Howard & Todd Murphy at Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA

1992  Artist in Residence California State Universities Summer Arts - Printmaking and Beyond w/ Guest Artist:  Elizabeth Murray and Art Crtic Roland Reese at Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA

Review Articles / Publications         Selected

Construct/s:  Installations by Asian Pacific American Artists  Exhibition Catalog Curated with  Essays by Dr. Stacie Uradomo-Barre Published by Wing Luke Museum 2015 Seattle, WA / Cheers for Muses Published by the Asian American Women Artists Association 2007  San Francisco, CA / "Journey through Time" in the Honolulu Advertiser Newspaper  July 2, 2006 / Pinay  Power Edited by Dr. Melinda de Jesus Rutledge Press 2005 / Sexual Naturalization by Susan Koshy  Stanford University Press  2004 Stanford, CA / "Layers of Expression" by Stephanie Loleng Philippine News /  "Self Explored" by Marc Carig Flipinas Magazine 2002 / "Unfolding Identities" by Reena Jana Asian Art News Journal 1999 / Women Artists of Color: A Bio-critica Sourcebook to 20th Century Artists in the Americas  Edited by Phoebe Farris  Greenwood Press, 1999  Westport, CN / "An Interview with Terry Acebo Davis" by Victoria Alba in Detail: Journal of Art Criticism South Bay Women Caucus for Art Publishers 1998 / "Richard Sumner Gallery Terry Acebo Davis" by Reena Jana Asian Art News 1995


Achenbach Foundation of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA / Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, Belgium / Ministry of the Flemish Communities, Belgium / Triton Museum of Arts  Santa Clara, CA / Leland-Whitney & Associates  San Francisco, CA / Sheila & Ralph Pickett  Saratoga, CA / Dr. Lorry & Karen Frankel  Stanford, CA / Paulette Peterson Estate  San Jose, CA / Dan Keegan - Dir Milwaukee Art Museum / Dr. Gary & Susan Hartman  Atherton, CA / Patrick Surgalski Los Gatos, CA / Dr. Sharon Irving Philadelphia, PA / Dr. Alan & Edwina Bergano  Virginia Beach, VA / Barbara DeGenevieve Estate  Chicago, IL / Heinrick Groenland Eindhoven, Netherlands / Charles & Nadine VanGisbergen  Berchem, Belgium / Jeffrey & Marie Moore  Los Altos, CA / Minerva Amistoso  Hayward, CA / Mel Orpilla  Vallejo, CA / Sunny Dykwel  Palo Alto, CA / Kathryn Funk  San Jose, CA / Mark & Laura Deem  Portola Valley, CA


San Jose State University  BFA, MFA with honors  / Stanford University / University of California San Francisco - Graduate studies in Pediatric Oncology / California State University Hayward BSN Nursing

Art Associations

City of Palo Alto Public Art Commission - Chair / Arts Council Silicon Valley - Trustee / WORKS San Jose Art and Performance - Board President, Advisor / Asian American Women in Art