Our Mural

Mactek Mural
Our new Mural at Mactek

Here at Mactek we highly value supporting our community.  Bend is a great place mostly because of the people who live here and make it their home.  In order to help make this city more beautiful, we just hired a local artist to create a mural in our parking lot.  Bekah decided to explore the idea of progress in America that suggests the human condition will inevitably evolve and improve, through the lens of heritage, spirituality and ancestry.  Here is her summary of what she created.

Summary

The piece “Babaylan Eternal” by Bekah Badilla, explores the idea of progress in America that suggests that the human condition will inevitably evolve and improve, through the lens of heritage, spirituality and ancestry. As history continues to be rewritten, science deepens age-old mysteries and violence and oppression prevail in our society—American progress reveals its elusive nature as an ever-moving target trapped in linear time. Unconcerned with justice in the present and reparations for the past, the idea of the future-focused progress has been used by the white majority to justify violence against Black, Indigenous and People of Color, including slavery, colonization, genocide, ethnic cleansing, land theft, forced removal and imperialist interests in other countries. The idea has been wrapped up in capitalism, white supremacy, industrialization, patriarchy and western interests since its conception. In the piece, Badilla combines symbols of past, present and future—making the linear construct of time obsolete. Melting out of the glacial ice is a Babaylan, a matriarchal leader, spirit guide and warrior prevalent in pre-colonial Philippines. The Babaylan embodies both technology and nature, offering knowledge and guidance not through elitism and brute force but through spirituality, mysticism and ancestral strength. A young girl is shown edified by her lineage and empowered to fight the battles of her time. The values inherited from the Babaylan hold no consequential utility or materiality, and often carry no weight by American standards. Yet, it’s this same reason they have the power to transcend the linear and shed light on the nature of our present circumstances. Badilla asks the question of whether the idea of progress is worth it and whether it’s a kind of Manifest Destiny of the current era, leaving destruction and oppression in its path. She further acknowledges the nuance between our ability to dictate the future and our inability to control it—inviting the audience to reflect on this paradigm and how all of our stories are a part of it.

Artist Statement

Does the future reveal itself, or do we create it? Lying at the root of the collective American consciousness is the idea of progress which suggests the human condition is and will inevitably evolve and improve. But as violence and oppression prevail in our society and history continues to be rewritten, progress reveals its elusive nature as an ever-moving target. Trapped in linear time and dependent upon human ingenuity and moral evolution, progress alludes to a positive-trending human condition—and so we violently charge forward with little reflection on the present much less the past. While many of us fight for equity and justice for BIPOC in this country, the injustices that confront us leave us not simply addressing surface issues (a couple examples include, Police Brutality, Mauna Kea, Dakota Access Pipeline, the list goes on), but digging out the root and looking at systems of oppression, namely capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy that layed the bedrock for our current issues to arise. The reality is, we can’t address these surface issues without addressing the bloody violent past that compounded into a bloody violent present. We can’t address our tomorrow, without looking at our today, we can’t address today, without reliving our yesterday. Progress doesn’t look like the minority because it’s been built and preached by the people and institutions in power since its conception.  Justice is not concerned with tomorrow, it is concerned with the violences of today and yesterday. What if we aren’t evolving, but simply adapting? What if we aren’t morally improving? Is advancing good? Does the future look like everyone in America or only the majority? How have the constructs of the progress paradigm justified violence and oppression? Is progress worth it to only the few in control? Does our society view Black, Indigenous  and People of Color as the people of the future? Is it a kind of Manifest Destiny of this era? How do we transcend it? These questions are almost heretical in modern American thought—striking a chord at the center of our current belief system. Yet, as I rest deeper into my heritage, into the history of my family and my ancestors, these questions are not a threat but a timeless mystery that connect me to a deeper current of life.

In the mural “Babaylan”, I chose to combine symbols of past, present and future—making the linear construct of time obsolete. Melting out of the glacial ice is a Babaylan, a matriarchal leader, warrior, spirit guide and sage prevalent in pre-colonial Philippines. Rooted in the elements of the earth and saturated in emotion and longing, the Babaylan is antithetical to the popular 1872 Manifest Destiny piece “American Progress” by John Gast. “American Progress” depicts an angelic woman of caucasian descent stringing telegraph wire and holding a school textbook that will instill knowledge. As she floats through the air with her head held high, she leads the murderous western expansion of the European-Americans across the North American continent. In contrast, the Babaylan, a larger than life elder full of ancient knowledge looks the opposite way, suggesting a new path and offering guidance that is humble, non-dualistic and unassuming. She is powerful, timeless and relevant—embodying both technology and nature—edifying a young girl of her lineage in how to fight the battles of her time. In a society where many of us have been estranged from our original cultures, lands, languages and religions, the dominant materialist reductionist mindset has become our guide. But as the modern archetype reveals its error, and science deepens age-old mysteries, I reflect on the bygone values of heritage, spirituality and ancestry—gathering the unquantifiable strength the Babaylan holds. These qualities, upheld by many cultures for centuries, steeped in mysticism and the natural world, hold no consequential utility or materiality and are often devalued by American measures. Yet, it’s this same reason they have the power to transcend the linear and shed light on the nature of our present circumstances. 

How do we triumph over the challenges of today? Is it ingenuity and brute force? Or, can we discover new paths by embracing the nuance between our ability to dictate the future and our powerlessness in controlling it?  The eternal oceans of the universe hold both change and cyclicality. As time unravels and each new day reveals itself, I rest in the vitality of this moment in contrast with its insignificance within the deep memory of the earth. While I face new trials before me, I abide in the knowledge that my ancestors have also faced trials—and although different, they embody the same enigma of being. I unearth not hopelessness, but power and belonging as I reclaim my culture and acknowledge this sacred mystery. Throughout the artistic process of this piece I have been lead to these questions. What do we think of the idea of progress? What does the past, present and future look like to us and why? I hope this piece challenges us to look more deeply at our history as a country and how our own unique stories have been weaved into its paradigm—acknowledging all that we are in space and time and moving forward with purpose and wisdom.

In the mural “Babaylan”, I chose to combine symbols of past, present and future—making the linear construct of time obsolete. Melting out of the glacial ice is a Babaylan, a matriarchal leader, warrior, spirit guide and sage prevalent in pre-colonial Philippines. Rooted in the elements of the earth and saturated in emotion and longing, the Babaylan is antithetical to the popular 1872 Manifest Destiny piece “American Progress” by John Gast. “American Progress” depicts an angelic woman of caucasian descent stringing telegraph wire and holding a school textbook that will instill knowledge. As she floats through the air with her head held high, she leads the murderous western expansion of the European-Americans across the North American continent. In contrast, the Babaylan, a larger than life elder full of ancient knowledge looks the opposite way, suggesting a new path and offering guidance that is humble, non-dualistic and unassuming. She is powerful, timeless and relevant—embodying both technology and nature—edifying a young girl of her lineage in how to fight the battles of her time. In a society where many of us have been estranged from our original cultures, lands, languages and religions, the dominant materialist reductionist mindset has become our guide. But as the modern archetype reveals its error, and science deepens age-old mysteries, I reflect on the bygone values of heritage, spirituality and ancestry—gathering the unquantifiable strength the Babaylan holds. These qualities, upheld by many cultures for centuries, steeped in mysticism and the natural world, hold no consequential utility or materiality and are often devalued by American measures. Yet, it’s this same reason they have the power to transcend the linear and shed light on the nature of our present circumstances.  

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