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Mimaaaaaaaaw: The Art and the Artist

Article by: Crismhil S. Anselmo, Princess Jazlyn B. Pereda, and Michaella Louise A. Llopis


Whether it’s on a street wall, canvas, furniture, or even clothing, up-and-coming artist Mariel Cruz, who goes by “Mimaaaaaaaaw” (yes, with eight As), colors the world through her signature bright hues and feline-themed art with passion and joy. If curiosity killed the cat, this artist would be a serial killer with the wonders and the mystery of her craft.


Graphics by: Albert Dylan D. David


Setting up the palettes


Establishing herself in the artistic scene for approximately 11 years, Ms. Cruz shared that her distinctively bold and colorful present style hasn't always been her aesthetic. Before becoming Mimaaaaaaaaw, the artist shared that she has used many names as pseudonyms for her creative pursuits, among them Maria Cruz, Ate Meng, and Yeng Cruz.

Earlier versions of her art style leaned towards abstraction and exuded a dark ambiance, where she would try to extract figures or faces from the shapes and hues of her canvas. The difference is stark with her present artistic approach, characterized by vivid colors, vibrancy, and a predominant focus on cats.


When asked how her newfound name came about, Mimaaaaaaaaw shared the somewhat random story of how it came to her. Admittedly a cat person, she used the term as an endearment for cats, whether they be her own or a friendly feline passing by. While working on cat-themed artwork, the name just popped up in her head, adorned with the eight As—done so because she considers it her lucky number—that has now become part of her brand that is spontaneous, bubbly, and catty.


Scratching the canvas


Mimaaaaaaaaw was a former Multimedia Arts student at what was then the Mapúa Institute of Technology (MIT). Recalling her undergraduate years, the artist said that she is grateful to her professors for the fundamentals and lessons she was taught, which eventually grounded her. “...sila ‘yung naging foundation ng kung nasaan ako ngayon, pati ‘yung mga artist na nakakasama ko.” she shared.


Reflecting on her time as a Mapúan, Mimaaaaaaaaw fondly recalled that beyond her academic pursuits, her key memories involved the friends she made. Standing by each other through thick and thin, the undeniably challenging environment of Mapúa proved manageable with the right companionship.


The artist said that the lessons she learned from MIT have stuck with her even now and helped her grow both as a person and as an artist, “Parang ganon kasi sa Mapúa eh, kailangan mo labanan ‘yung sarili mong stress and sa pressure na [rin]. […] Sobrang helpful niya kasi [hinanda] niya ako, mentally and physically.” she stated.


Prepurring for the world


Since leaving Mapúa University, Mimaaaaaaaaw has taken part in various projects, exhibits, and shows as early as 2013. She has also participated in doing street art and murals, adorning streets with distorted, colorful cats with positive messages. Among the staple galleries her art has been featured in are Secret Fresh Gallery and Vinyl on Vinyl, which she now considers a home for her and her colleagues’ art.


2024 is going to be a busy year for the up-and-coming artist. Among the events she is looking forward to is the ALT Philippines art show starting today, February 21 to 25 at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City. Mimaaaaaaaaw is also set to participate in the upcoming Bobapalooza Music and Arts Festival this February 24 to 25 at the Filinvest City Events Grounds in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. It is one of the most sought-after music and arts event in the Philippines that provide rising artists the opportunity to share their discography and visual works.


On June 1, Mimaaaaaaaaw is also set to do her first solo gallery, which will be held at her beloved Vinyl on Vinyl, at La Fuerza, Makati.


Though jampacked this year, Mimaaaaaaaaw said she is looking forward to furthering her art beyond acrylic and canvas in the coming years. She is inspired to turn anything into something that defines her brand. She aspires to continue exploring her art through other media, such as three-dimensional art, music, and videos, among others. Of course, it will be feline-themed, true to her artistic identity.


Creating a meowsterpiece


When asked about her opinion on people who discourage art-related careers, she gave advice to aspiring artists to still do what is in their heart no matter what other people say, “Anything na ginawa mo, tas ginawa mo siya sa puso, ‘yun din ‘yung magdadala sayo kung nasaan ka, kung ano ‘yung pupuntahan mo...” She also added that if someone does what they love, they will not let their efforts go to waste and will strive to improve their love in their work, and that they should trust themselves.


Reflecting on her journey, Mimaaaaaaaaw encouraged artists to explore and make mistakes because it is part of the process. She emphasized that one shouldn’t think that they are falling behind compared to others, and that it is alright to fail.


For her parting message, she called on aspiring artists to stop doubting themselves and start believing that they could overcome their setbacks because wherever they are now, it is where they are meant to be. “Learn to accept. Explore everything.

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