The Beholder

Recently I was on the search for abstract art by a Pinay artist and had the good fortune of stumbling upon the work of Jessica Dolorfino Alabia. Based in Valladolid, Negros Occidental, Jessica is a 36-year-old self-taught Pinay artist with Down syndrome. Jessica’s paintings are reminiscent of Klimt’s elaborate tiles, Picasso’s cubist strokes, and Kandinsky’s striking curves. Intrigued, I spent some hours perusing her paintings and watching videos of her in her creative process—gleefully calm and pensive while painting—which were posted by her sister, Jecelle, who manages her Facebook art page. It was then I immediately reached out to her sister.

I requested permission to collaborate on Slicing Tomatoes and feature one of Jessica’s pieces. The poem, “The Beholder” is an ekphrastic response to Jessica’s piece, “She.” While we consider Klimt, Picasso, and Kandinsky to be masters of their craft—old white men of the European avant-garde—Jessica’s work reinforces what Slicing Tomatoes has meant to me since I first started the website in 2017, which was showcasing a skill of precision not immediately passed down from anyone, but that there are things, like Jessica’s masterful demonstration of her craft, which proves how our gifts can be something we simply learn on our own, stemming from that inexplicable place, deep within ourselves.

Jessica is the 36th Pinay artist to be featured on Slicing Tomatoes, and it’s a great honor and privilege to showcase her work. You can read a brief summary of Jessica’s bio if you scroll down below the poem. For more information about Jessica and to view more of her art, please visit her Featured Artist page here, which has hyperlinks to her social media platforms.

She by Jessica Alabia, 2022
Image: “She” by Jessica Dolorfino Alabia, Faber Castel colored pens on illustration board, 2022

Vocals and poem by Elsa Valmidiano

for Jessica Dolorfino Alabia

I see a goddess
with hair and eyes so grand
—an amalgam of my dreams.

The maze of precision that runs
through your process
signals genius for those
who look beyond the veil.

And while genius is present,
maybe it is simply beauty
that all one hopes to achieve.

Who’s to say exactly
what any of it means,
except an inkling
of the true self
is revealed.

Maybe this is the way you see us,
more than we can ever see ourselves,
stretched across lines, brilliance, and curves,
of what feels due in the moment.

There is no hierarchy for the inspired
as we all have been conditioned
to otherwise believe.

These are doors
you open
to let us in.

May we have the privilege
of beholding—
the complicated, the simple,
and alive,

where every brushstroke,
every shade, every line
originates from some
boundless well of light
ready to illuminate
from deep within.


Born in September 1985 and based in Valladolid, Negros Occidental, Jessica Dolorfino Alabia is a gifted self-taught Pinay artist with Down syndrome. Jessica never received a formal education, nor can she read or write. However, surrounded by a loving family, she found her passion and joy in making art and has been prolific ever since. Her family isn’t sure what influenced Jessica and how she developed her gift. Today, her art is reminiscent of Klimt, Picasso, and Kandinsky, where she draws elaborate lines and shapes, and combines vibrant colors in an abstract and figurative style entirely her own. She creates her masterpieces on illustration boards with Faber Castel colored pens. To date, her Facebook art page, Jessica’s Art, has garnered more than 50,000 followers. Her family hopes to soon organize an exhibit of her works.

Categories PoetryTags , , , ,

Submit Comments or Inquiries Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close