(b. 1989, Manila, the Philippines)
Maria Jeona Zoleta is a visual artist from Manila, Philippines. She works with a range of mediums, from paintings, drawings, textiles, videos, sculptures, to installation. Following a nonlinear spiral timeline, she likes to imagine and research about topics that intrigue and challenge her, such as the concept of the “Uncanny Valley” by the roboticist Masahiro Mori and the idea of “Patchwork City: Class, Space and Politics in Metro Manila” by Marco Garrido. Yet her process is very much influenced by her context: Philippine history, the Y2K Millennium bug, and the Internet generation that raised her. She infuses digital sketches she makes in MS Paint, Photoshop, and Clip Studio, yet she still prefers the slow, meditative vibe of painting in the studio and making a total mess in real life.
Zoleta grew up in the red light district of Makati City, Metro Manila, and this informs her visual language. She takes comfort in her obsession with the weird and the eerie. She is a member of “j0L3na”, a “liquid shapeshifting entity, a rainbow glitter holographic consciousness” and a collaborative practice with her artist friends. A mother to a toddler, she is presently painting using what is left of her breast milk with watercolor pigments, and creating sculptures of different structures using wood, metal, and clay—which she sees as an extension of her painting practice. At the moment, the words and phrases that are important to Zoleta are resistance, triggering, memory, pipes, soil, sewage, underground passage, rituals of infection, decay, damage, and repair.In 2011, Zoleta graduated from the University of the Philippines Diliman (College of Fine Arts). She has exhibited widely locally and internationally. In 2014, she won the Ateneo Art Awards 2014 – Fernando Zóbel Prizes for Visual Art.