CHROMA ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: MARIA DINA GALURA

Maria Divina Gracia Tanguin-Galura, also known as Dina, is the artist and owner of Calgary Party 50. She is a self-taught artist who creates stunning, biodegradable, balloon installations to spread sheer delight and whimsy throughout her community. 

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For CHROMA, Dina created Kalimbahin — a balloon art installation featuring beautiful shades of pink that she dedicated to her three daughters and husband. The literals meaning of Kalimbahin is a variety of guava with pink flesh.

“The name is a tribute to my heritage. My husband would climb guava trees and give me the fruit as a gift when I was 8 years old.” 

We wanted to learn more about Dina’s art piece, so we sat down with her for a quick chat!

Tell us about the process of making this piece? 

I was given total creative freedom to design this piece, which I truly enjoyed. I am overly inspired by my recent childbirth so I used thousands of balloons to translate my feelings of love and excitement. The landscape of Kalimbahin reflects the journey of motherhood. Big moments and minuscule details are represented by the different sizes of balloons. These are the countless sacrifices women encounter throughout their journey of raising children. While being a mother is only one of many facets of being a woman, it is definitely the most rewarding despite all the challenges.

My second installation, Tropicalla, is a word mash up of tropical and acapella. It is a welcome to Spring as birds sing to the delight of peeking greens and an array of budding flowers. Birds sing in harmony with one another and they share their happiness with anyone who is listening to Mother Earth’s chirping gift.

Calgary Party 50 uses biodegradable latex balloons that disintegrate when exposed to moisture and heat. I take pride in collecting the balloons after each exhibit so there is no negative impact on the environment. 

You can find both of Dina’s pieces in the Centre Court of Southcentre Mall until June 16th! These installations are a parallel pleasure and are best enjoyed through a bird’s eye view a head up to the 2nd floor for a peak.

Photo by  Kelly Hofer

Photo by Kelly Hofer

What routines or rituals help you get into the creative zone?

I take the bus and train to work, and during my commute I watch the different sceneries pass by. I get inspired by how I can add balloons to these ordinary, taken for granted sites. Or a site ‘invites’ my curious mind to build something. I see the same structures everyone else does but in my mind, I have already installed balloons on it! I even have the colours that fit the space picked out.

Who are some of your favourite artists or pieces of art? 
I have two. The first is Charles Petillon. His all white balloon installations are mind blowing. The engineering, strategic location and artful presentation of the piece makes his work timeless and much loved across the globe. Mouvement Perpètuel is my top pick. Google it.

The second artist is Jihan Zencirli, aka Geronimo. Her beautiful mind, bold designs, and massive scale bring me so much joy. The New York Ballet collaboration is my favourite next to her ‘if it looks like an egg’ installation. 

How has your art evolved over the years? 

My first balloon art installation was Nucleation, and it reflected my core values as an artist. It was free for the community to experience, it was a collaboration of great minds at Beakerhead that celebrated engineering and art, and it was fuelled by volunteers. From then on, I had opportunities to work both corporate and private events. It has been truly rewarding to be a part of such amazing milestones!

My art evolves by continuously going back to square one. It’s ironic but I feel happiest and most fulfilled when my core values align from one project to the next. I always go back to my first piece of balloon art because creating art that is accessible to many and brings joy to people of all ages grounds me. I would like to keep travelling and working towards building community and accessible pieces that inspire others. 

Photo by  Philip David

Photo by Philip David

 What have been some of the most memorable projects that you worked on?

Nucleation, an ode to Beakerhead in 2017, was my first balloon art installation. I sent in a proposal and Beakerhead listened to the crazy ideas I had. I was excited and scared throughout the entire process! The next year, I worked on another piece for Beakherhead called Dreams Never Die. We covered the front of the historic Enoch Sales Residence with 3,500 balloons and transformed it into the house from “Up.” We used seven different colours to represent each year that have passed since my husband and I migrated to Canada. 

I also collaborated with the new Central library for a balloon art installation on April 2018. A generous donor, Eveline Wheatley Goodall, contributed to ‘Moms Stairway’ which is a giant staircase where mothers can rest and watch their children play and read. Goodall dedicated the staircase to her mother who went through great efforts to get her books as they did not have access to a public library growing up. I named my installation ‘Mother’ to reflect this but also because I was pregnant during this time. It was also a homage to my time spent on the engineering floor of the Charles Vath Library of Saint Louis University in the Philippines. The 11th floor of the library was my refuge.

Where else can we find your work in Calgary?

My balloon art installations are mostly for private events. Community gifts and public art pieces are shared on Instagram, via grids so you can appreciate the scale and design, so be sure to follow for updates! 

Stay connected @calgaryparty50

www.calgaryparty50.ca

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