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The Empty Chair Project Brings Art and Healing Together

The exhibit continues to advocate for mental health and the need for dialogue about depression, grief, and related issues.

The Empty Chair Project, a fundraising exhibition by the Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation, is having a reprise at the Art Lounge Manila at the Podium until July 30, 2022.  

The exhibition, which had its initial run at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila in 2019, is being restaged with a new roster of 58 artists, each transforming a simple chair into a statement in support of mental health.

Daniel dela Cruz, the Director of the Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation, Inc., shares that the restaging of The Empty Chair Project addresses the need to reconnect amid the pandemic. This year’s exhibition also showcases the chairs worked on by two premier artists who recently passed away—Riel Hilario and Leo Abaya. 

We would like to honor [Hilario and Abaya] by exhibiting their works, along with other artists, as the lockdowns and the pandemic were tough on everyone’s mental and physical health,” says dela Cruz. “This exhibition is a reminder for our need to look out for each other.  This was the message of The Empty Chair Project in 2019, and it rings truer now.”

Exhibit curator Ricky Francisco emphasizes that the core of The Empty Chair Project is that of offering a helping hand to those who are in need.  

“During the lockdowns, artists and collectors were among the very first to rise up to help our frontliners through various online fundraisers. Solitary artists have come out of their shells to support other members of our community when the need arose. I think this is the essence of The Empty Chair Project, and this is our essence as Filipinos,” shares Francisco.

Citing Art Lounge Manila’s record of helping out amid the pandemic, director Susanne Tiausas is in full support of the exhibition. “We are happy in the inclusion of our artists among The Empty Chair Project, which is primarily a project of the Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation, as the pandemic taught us that only by working together can we truly keep each other healthy,” she notes. 
The Empty Chair Project Reprise runs until July 30 at The Art Lounge Manila at The Podium, Ortigas Center. For more information, visit the Art Lounge Manila website or check their social media pages on Facebook and Instagram.