The series "Pasalubong" reaches across diaspora to homeland to engage with traditional material culture and ecological knowledge as a barometer to understand how climate crisis is transforming coastal island communities. Each work takes the form of the single-sized banig, or woven mat, that are used to create spaces for rest, ritual and gathering. Banig are revered throughout the Philippine diaspora; considered by some to be the most basic form of shelter, they are even distributed to survivors in the aftermaths of natural disasters. Following the ethos of “doing the best you can with what you’ve got” that is a necessary part of life in diaspora, these my banig-inspired objects are hand-woven from non-traditional materials like blue tarp, single-use water bottles, discarded plastic wrappers and other products of oil extraction. I use these materials both because they are "what I've got" available in my urban, American landscape, as well as to bring awareness to the forced obsolescence in traditional knowledge that has been created by economic instability and amplified by increasing and intensifying climate crisis. Some of these works also respond to the notorious proliferation of plastic waste throughout the Philippines—a result of the “sachet economy” that capitalizes on a population with low, irregular income, and of having been used as a dumping ground for so-called recyclables shipped in from wealthier nations. As a distinctive and widely practiced tradition within the Philippine arkipelago, the gesture of pasalubong itself is abundantly meaningful beyond being a simple souvenir. A pre-colonial practice originating from long-distance inter-island trade, it is grounded in community-building, in reciprocity, in sharing one’s good fortune, and in recognizing oneself in others—kapwa. The concept of a pasalubong can encompass the many different directions that a souvenir, material, resource or commodity can travel, including who is giving the gift or taking the gift and why—especially when considered in a global context. Combining traditional organic materials with discards, the works of “Pasalubong” unite material and method to look at how we are all already co-constituted by our entanglement with “non-natural” materials like plastic. Yet, these works also necessarily consider the structural inequity embedded in climate crisis adaptation, a disparity that is deeply connected to unequal patterns of consumption between the global north and global south.
Carol Anne Almocera McChrystal's recent sculptures concentrate on the ancestral handicrafts of her two island homelands, Ireland and the Philippines. Influenced by time spent in these places witnessing the role globalized industry plays in the transformation of cultural practices, her works take the form of floor mats traditionally plaited from local plant fibers. Informed by constructs of home and her family migration story, she hand-weaves these objects from non-traditional matter that she collects from specific landscapes. Using material and method hand in hand, her works are a meditation on how extractive industry and climate catastrophe are irrevocably entangled with local experiences of home and shelter.