Sandra Jamiro: A Life With A View

Editor’s Note: This article was originally intended to be written and published in December, last year, in the course of Sandra Jamiro’s month-long solo art exhibit in Ateneo de Zamboanga University. In its treatment of her as a woman painter, publishing it this March in connection with its worldwide celebration as Women’s Month makes it just as timely and relevant.)

IN the recent movie “A Room With A View”, a young woman’s trivial request, as a tourist in Italy, for a pensione room with a fine view from the window accidentally launched her on an extraordinary personal journey to find true love and happiness, often by breaking social conventions and outsmarting the adults in her life.

Ever since she fell in love with photography while exposed to her father’s picture-taking hobby, Sandra Jamiro has been on her own extraordinary search – for beauty and truth in art. Her father while she was yet in elementary school taught her not only how to take pictures like a grizzled paparazzi, but even to process film in the darkroom. Not surprisingly, she studied fine arts in the University of Santo Tomas, major in advertising. Her formal training led her to work in the local media, as a TV newscaster among other functions in the defunct First United Broadcasting Corporation. Today, Sandra teaches Mass Communication subjects in Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU).

That she had won a national photo contest for her pictures of City Hall and Fort Pilar is an indication of her aesthetic and technical mastery. Since 1994, though, three years after her marriage broke up, her interest shifted from photography to painting.

The artistic principles she learned in photography served her well in her paintings. Both media are based on light. But while old time photography, before the age of digital camera and Photoshop, was mainly a form of realism, Sandra’s paintings lean heavily on impressionism.

“I love to use a lot of colors, apply so many paints”, she said in an interview. I look at the paintings of Van Gogh and Monet, and I tell myself that I can do better, she said with a deep and mad seriousness that only artists can muster.

Her watercolor pieces, of landscapes and trees, are really super. The purposive swirling lines and hues of her older pieces give off a mystical, whimsical and almost musical vibe. Lately, she ventured into oil and in painting brightly intense “cultural” scenes, mostly of Yakan folks in their native costumes engaged in play or work.

I like bright colors, because dull ones make me feel depressed, she said later in the interview. The cheerful quality of my works reflects my own positive outlook in life, she said.

That attitude and the exacting artistic skills she learned from her father early in life and some more later on in school surely enabled her to survive the ups and downs of life, like the breakdown of her marriage. As a single parent since 1991, when her two children were then only two and four years old, she has struggled and survived.

As they grew older, Sandra said, her children increasingly urged her to paint more often, for frequently in the past years her career and a previous business denied her the time to indulge in her passion. Her art has taken a central space or surrogate function in her family. Its beauty is not in her canvasses alone, but in their hearts and the deep bonding it creates amongst them, perhaps like that movie’s ‘room with a view’. By her life and her works, artistic skills indeed teach a way to live – nobly, and beauty is never ephemeral – like a clear blue sky.

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