The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) under the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines recently recognized 22-year-old visual artist Mariah Karla Zamora with the prestigious Ani ng Dangal.
Zamora, who is currently pursuing Multimedia Arts at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of New Media Arts, earned the reputable distinction after emerging as National Award Winner for the Philippines at the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards in London. It is the leading competition for established and emerging photographers around the world.
Her winning piece, dubbed Anom Asil, was a school requirement on Rembrandt Lighting, a popular technique that utilizes one light and one reflector or two separate lights to capture a dramatic yet natural image.
Inspired by the Renaissance masterpiece Mona Lisa by Italian maestro Leonardo Da Vinci, the portrait pictures her older brother, Juan Carlo, in a painting-like photograph.
“Mona Lisa was depicted to be the perfect and most beautiful woman and I wanted to create a reversed version, hence the name Anom Asil,” she stated.
“Photography is a trial-and-error process, especially working with lighting, and that’s one of my struggles,” she detailed. “My brother was irritated because I was taking so long that his face finally captured what I was going for. When I won, we always joked about how hasty he was when I took it.”
Zamora, daughter of award-winning Filipino photographer Carlo Zamora, has been immersed into the visual arts scene since she was eight. “However, as time passed, school has been my priority and I couldn’t get back to it since,” she shared. “That’s why I was so excited about the Photography Class at Benilde. I certainly had the opportunity to rekindle one of my favorite hobbies.”
The budding artist likewise extended her utmost gratitude to Viktor Peñas, her Photography professor in Benilde. “Thank you for teaching me well during our class,” she expressed.
The deliverable particularly caught the attention of her father, who encouraged her to submit it to the UK competition. “My dad is my inspiration,” she shared. “He pushes me to trust myself. I’ve doubted my capabilities and he always tells me that I accomplish them.”
Currently, Zamora works as a graphic designer and social media manager for a local skincare company. She is hoping to graduate this year and is planning to explore street photography.
“It’s one of the most difficult and fun styles out there,” she elaborated. “I hope in the future I’ll be able to make a name for myself.”
The highlight and the concluding rite of the National Arts Month (NAM) in February, the Ani ng Dangal or Harvest of Honors pays tribute to the Filipino artists whose talents have earned international accolades from established award-giving bodies and brought pride to the country. The categories include Architecture, Cinema, Dance, Drama, Literature, Music, Visual Arts, and Broadcast Arts.
Zamora, together with over 30 Filipino artists, were bestowed during the 15th Ani ng Dangal Awards conducted at the Ceremonial Hall, Malacañan Palace. Each received the remarkable stylized sarimanok trophy sculpted by National Artist for Visual Arts Abdulmari Imao.