Wawi Navarroza is a multi-disciplinary artist who is primarily known for her use of photography in her art practice. Both active locally and internationally, her works are continually shown in galleries and museums, and has been the recipient of important art awards. She was born and raised in Manila, the grand-daughter of Cristituto Navarroza, a respected and much-loved portrait photographer from a small coastal town in Leyte. Following this legacy, she has taken after her grandfather pursuing the medium to which she has extended to the larger context of contemporary art-making.
Wawi has graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from De La Salle University, Manila mentored by conceptual artist Judy Freya Sibayan. As a young artist she was endowed with the prestigious Fellowship Grant by the Asian Cultural Council that relocated her to New York City while also attending continuing education at the International Center of Photography. A few years after, she then received a scholarship award from the Istituto Europeo di Design in Madrid, Spain for the program European Master of Fine Art Photography and finished on top of her class. This would cement her ongoing dialogue with Asia and Europe, with constant travel and acquired languages, in her works.
Spanning almost 2 decades since devoting a full-time practice in the arts, her work has been shown in important institutions such as the National Museum of the Philippines, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Metropolitan Museum of Manila and also widely exhibited in museums, galleries, and festivals abroad: Singapore Art Museum 8Q, Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery, Hangaram Museum, Korea, National Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Fries Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum Belvedere, Netherlands, among other spaces in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Russia, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, and the United States. Navarroza has received a number of awards such as the critical Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Thirteen Artists Awards, Ateneo Art Awards, Lumi Photographic Art Awards Helsinki, and was distinguished as Finalist for the Singapore Museum Signature Art Prize, WMA Commission Hong Kong and Sovereign Asian Art Prize 2018.
Her art has been surveyed in major publications such as “Photography Today" (Phaidon) and “Contemporary Photography in Asia” (Prestel). She’s been a strong proponent of books as an extension of artistic work and with this, has published two books of her own “DOMINION” and “Hunt & Gather, Terraria”. In 2015, she founded THOUSANDFOLD, a platform for contemporary photography and a library for photobooks in Manila with the aim to further educate and encourage more publication of photography author-works from the Philippines.
Wawi also works as an educator and mentor of photography through workshops, talks, jury, and portfolio reviews here and abroad, with previous teaching experience within the academic setting. She also sings for post-punk rock band called The Late Isabel, with a recently launched album “Imperial”.
Despite the successes, Wawi has not been a stranger to crises that seem to define every turning point where life meets art. In 2011, her studio was devastated by typhoon; in 2012, she lost major bodies of work to digital loss and theft; in 2016, a life and death bout with dengue while in art residency and in the same year, a fire which ruined her Manila studio and displaced her for some years. These are all transmuted to her works that probe displacements and constant movement, finding the Self with and in the surroundings; all these with the intention to mirror our shared path to understanding a deeper sense of place and identity.
In the past few years she has based herself back and forth Madrid and Manila. Currently, Wawi Navarroza is working and living in Manila, Philippines.
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