Filipina Artist in Dubai: Romina May – Artist Spotlight

My name is Romina May, and I am a visual artist known for vibrant life-size abstracts and hyper-realistic paintings.  I am mainly self-taught and this has shaped my entire approach to making art. I was born and raised in the northern region of the Philippines. I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing in 2008. I moved to Dubai to pursue my career and progressively transitioned in another interesting field that led me to my real passion in life. These defining factors influence and inspired me in my art. With the choice of subjects, and style, I think that reflects my character that I developed from where I came from and where I live now.

Follow Romina on Facebook: RominaMay

Follow Romina on Instagram: @rominamay.arts

How did you become passionate about art? What inspires you? What is the philosophy behind it?

I’ve been drawing since I was in grade school, and through many years, I developed a passion through constant practice. I believe art is the journey of a free soul, learning how to listen and become true to oneself. With my art, I want to inspire generations, and I aim to create a connection between audience and artist by putting my values and relationship with society and the environment into my art.

What makes your art unique from the rest? Are there any defining characteristics? Or is there a definitive approach to your work that you’ve made your own?

My paintings are simply adventures of my mind. Whenever I pick up the brush and paint, I give myself fully and become a part of the creation process. It is a way of recording my thoughts, emotions, adventurous spirit, and my imagination – so that it connects with other people. I believe working in different styles is beneficial as it aids in me developing my unique style. Much of my technique is based on splashes, and it can be seen on my works entitled “Take me to Mars” and “Natural eruption” – which experiment with themes of life, space, and exploration. 

Have you had any significant events through your artistic career? Exhibitions, showcases, etc.

The year 2020 was the biggest breakthrough for me in all aspects. There have been many realizations that led me back to my true passion – which is art. I found my ‘ikigai’ just at the right moment then. I knew it has always been what I wanted to do for so many years but I was disheartened by so much excuses and limited thinking.

When I showcased my works to hundreds of artists and thousands of visitors at my first public art exhibition in October 2020 at the Dubai World Trade Center, my doors were opened to many possibilities that continue even to today.

What can you say about the art community in your country? What are the good parts and the bad parts (if any)?

The art community in the Philippines where I was from, and the UAE’s community are totally different in many good ways. My approach to art has transformed dramatically as I stepped into a world of modernity and diverse cultures. Way back home, I learned how to cultivate the classic styles of realism and appreciate landscapes in nature. When I moved here to Dubai, the environment changed the way I approached art because of how my life expanded. This was when I shifted to abstract paintings, where I feel more free and less constrained. I think the place is good for emerging artists as the experience parallels to the city’s art market that is consistently booming.

What are some of the challenges that you face as an artist? How do you get past them?

Being out in the market is one of the challenges that I currently experience. I think getting to know people who are in the field is essential, and maintaining good relationships has a long-term impact as well.

Do you see any future for artists such as yourself? Is art essential to the development of your community?

Creating something beautiful for the community is essential as it uplifts the wellbeing of the people as well as it encourages activities where everyone can grow, share, and enjoy. It is a place where I see myself progressing as an individual and helping to others do the same.

What’s your message to artists around the world specially during this challenging time?

“Keep art alive” – that’s my mantra. When we have the courage to show the world what we can be without limitations, it is when we become warriors of light. I quote M. Williamson – “We are all meant to shine as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And, as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others the permission to do the same. As we liberate from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Always bear in mind that it is not about the perfection, but the progress that we make every time we give ourselves the chance to share our talents with everyone around us.