How an artist turned simple messages into thought-provoking art


The digital age offers too many distractions, preventing us from getting into the core of human relationships and fully comprehending each other’s inner psyche. Psychology’s cultural climate and its power to reveal the inner life of individuals have been heavily ignored in recent times.

But maybe art, coupled with psychology, could resist the currents of the digital age.

In her latest solo exhibit called Psychology Today, Maria Cruz showcases a collection of text-based color-field paintings. This exhibit features texts lifted from an advertising insert of the journal Psychology Today from a 1971 Esquire issue. Cruz picked and painted 10 out of the 17 listed reasons why people should subscribe to Psychology Today.

The collection is in line with the intermittent themes of Cruz’s artistic œuvre—that of identifying helplessness and exploring the impact of simple texts.

The artworks adopt a propaganda-like aesthetic: Cruz used particular color combinations to emphasize the texts, but the background colors themselves project deeper meanings.



On one hand, the text fragments may seem dated since they are from the 70′s (as Cruz would explain later), but they can be relevant when taken into a modern context. The texts touch on identity, race, gender, and politics.

Samples of the text fragments range from “Why words are the least important of the ways we communicate with each other” to “What your daydream reveals about your ethnicity” and “Do men need more recreation than women?”

Then as now, the texts are commentaries on pressing issues. The beauty of these texts is that their relevance transcends time. They encompass different convictions and philosophies.

Each text resonates differently on every spectator. Cruz admits there is no intended meaning behind these paintings, thus leaving spectators carte blanche.

And where there is free reign, there’s always the possibility of empowering multiple voices and discourses.



Pacifiqa talked to Maria Cruz to discuss her textual artworks. Here are the things she shared with us.


GC: What is your original intention behind these textual works?

MC: There is not one intention. A copy of Esquire from 1971 had this page as an ad insert for the journal Psychology Today. I liked this mag as an object, and this particular insert captured many interesting thoughts. I like the nuance of the word ‘today.’


GC: What brought you to this whole fascination of using lifted texts in your paintings? 

MC: It is like a collection of words by other authors. I see them as my personal clippings and other voices that I listen to.


GC: Does your choice of color for the background and the text play a very important role in these paintings?

MC: No. These colors and brand (of paint) are ones that I use a lot. They are actually my favorites at the moment.


GC: Do you feel that some of these textual excerpts are a bit dated or do you leave the spectator to define their own meanings?

MC: The way they are stated is perhaps dated. One does not call hippies today as ‘hippies.’ They are something else.



Maria Cruz’s “Psychology Today” runs from the July 24 to August 24, 2014 at the Bulwagang Fernando Amorsolo (Small Gallery) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

This exhibit is presented with the support of Galeria Duemila. In line with the exhibit’s opening on July 24, an artist talk will take place at 4:00 pm and an opening reception will follow at 6:00 pm. The exhibit is available for viewing during the entire run from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.