Raised in a simple community located in Brgy. Bagacay, a young boy’s awareness of the arts came during childhood by way of drawing monster-like images on the soil with the use of twigs and bamboo sticks.
Hersley Ven Casero, one of Foundation University’s resident artists, still can recall that during his preschool days, his simple line drawing of a helicopter was named by his teacher as “artwork of the week.” The same teacher also shared that Hersley would someday would become an artist.
“It was my first time to learn that I maybe good at something,” said Hersley who cherished that moment when his teacher recognized his talent and thus, began his journey and interesting story as an artist.
From drawing images on the soil, to pencils, colored pens and crayons on paper, he joined his first art contest using a cheap watercolor set at the age of 8. Because he was nervous and inexperienced with the medium, he ended up having a hole on his paper – a failure which he made as an inspiration to keep on working hard to improve his skills at producing art.
Fast forward to his college days when Hersley had to save up money to purchase oil paints but was too afraid to use it those knowing the cost and the lack of proper mentorship in handling the medium. And here’s where the late local artist Muffet Villegas came in to the picture. Hersley shared that he met Muffet at a poster-making contest, of which she served as judge. The generous lady then offered him free mentorship in the execution of oil and other mediums –including denim, ceramics, screen printing, etc. He saw the experience as a means to test his limits as an artist and also, to see the limits of the “arts.”
Inspiration behind the Artworks
Themes and Phases of his life are his personal inspirations behind crafting artworks. On an honest note, he shared that at first, he was more into the exhausting commissioned works that came with heavy instructions and amendments from the client.
After earning a stable status as an artist, he slowly turned down commissioned works for clients and thus, began to practice his right to craft, with full creative freedom, what he now calls the completely authentic artpieces.
“It’s really important for me now that my work now comes from my heart, instead of trying to sell or please the masses – it’s more about the intent than the result,” said Hersley on what fuels his passion for the arts.
For a long time, Hersley needed to reorient himself in order to loose all inhibitions and insecurities about how people would receive his art. He then compares the experience like painting with that mind of a child.
An artist who is not after being appreciated nor understood for the “not so usual” art that he makes, Hersley confessed that he enjoys the process and gains satisfaction with what he produces at the end.
“Life is colorful, dynamic and diverse. There are so many different stories and lessons in the opportunities you take, the people you meet along the way, the stories they share and all of the new sensory experiences and emotional journeys that they all bring,” conveyed Hersley as he refers to where he draws inspiration for the work that he does.
He also added, “There is no limitation to what is out there, to inspire new art and new ideas if you’re just brave enough to grab the opportunities that the universe presents to you.”
Promoting Public Art
When asked about what is Art, his personal definition comes as “any original and authentic form of self-expression.”
The said personal definition of art also comes with an important purpose – promoting art in the community. Hersley made it clear that though private creation is a very good form of therapy for most people, art is also a powerful tool for communication, conversation and connectivity to the world.
“Art has the power to make people happy and inspired, to make people think or even to teach about history, politics, society and human nature,” Hersley shared when asked about the deeper essence of his art.
He then added that art is about sharing skills, talents and ideas as a collective human race. Through his art, he wants everyone to be able “to access these wonderful and diverse visual images as representations of concepts, ideas and colors – in the same way that we all have a right to engage in a dynamic education about the world and about us human beings.”
Art, for him, should spark conversations, connect people, open people’s minds to ideas outside the box or it should just make one’s day brighter.
“In as much as artists have the right to be paid for their skills, original ideas and hard work, I believe that everybody has the right to access free art… It’s about balance, there’s enough of everything in the art world to explore,” said Hersley regarding his advocacy of promoting public art.
Hersley has that strong belief that creativity and ideas spring from somewhere – a rich resource of inspiration and of course, loads of exposure. Clearly, he began creating art with materials and resources which were readily available to him. Later on, he spent hours in the library to browse art history books and was later captivated with the life stories of artists. Those life stories of artist and their remarkable perseverance to carry on with their work would often inspire him to get back to work when he experience an “artist’s block.”
Also, he took advantage of the limitless searches in the internet to see how current artists do their work around the world through their stories, videos and interviews. For him, the internet has provided access to not just images but information about art, how it is created, the meaning behind and the artist’s stories.
Another thing that enhanced his learning process was the travels he had around the Philippines and abroad especially in museums, galleries and artists’ studios.
At the end of the day, Hersley advised “You have to work with whatever resources you have available to you and really make the most of what you have.”
Hersley’s Art in the Future
“With every new series, I like to challenge myself with something new. As an artist, I don’t think I’ll ever stop growing. There is so much satisfaction in the process of development. There is always more to learn, more to explore and more to discover about art and its adversities, Hersley expressed about where his art would lead him in the future.
At present, he is exploring ceramics as an artistic medium with its challenging nature but quite satisfying as a material knowing its complexities and variations in the execution.
Hersley sees himself as someone who is humble enough to admit that he started from scratch and what makes the process often successful is his desire for continuous learning and practice.
With the support of talented friends and established ceramicists from Manila and Australia such as: Jezzel Wee, Jay Song and Helen Fuller, he learned ceramic artistry through an Artist Residency Programme held at Foundation University. Not to mention, his fellow FU resident artist, Takeshi Maruyama – he considers a huge inspiration and a true master of his art.
“I have only scratched the very surface of what is out there and I would love to continue journeying, both literally and artistically speaking.”
Hersley Ven Casero’s work indeed springs from his heart – the passion to pursue what he loves, create art with an essential purpose, start a ripple in the community and innovate new art ideas and creations. It is undeniable that Hersley’s persona has a big role in shaping the art that he creates for himself in order to spark inspiration to his fellow artists and the whole community.