FSSA Art Student Longs for Warmth and Community

FSSA art student Kai Mercado longs for warmth and community.

You can see her sketching away in art class every day. Her sketchbook filled with countless ideas for future projects. Drawings of her past in the Philippines take up the paper as she loses herself in the music from her phone. Once she’s involved in a project it’s hard to get her attention away from it. Which makes it pretty odd that she doesn’t end up finishing most of her projects.

Kai Mercado is a senior art major at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA), who has a habit of leaving many art projects unfinished. With her latest project, though, she is making quick progress. Her project focuses on her times in the Philippines, where she spent the first six years of her life. Her and her mother moved from the Philippines, leaving her dad, for an amazing opportunity to live in the states; her mom got a job in a nursing agency.

She describes her time in the Philippines as her golden years. For Kai, things got very muddled and moved too fast in the city, whereas in the Philippines everything just seemed more laid back and carefree, but she admits this was most likely because she was still very young. At the time it seemed perfect, it was sunny practically everyday, no winter, no snow. She used to wake up, go to the beach with her dad before school even started and take a dip.

One thing that came up many times when describing her childhood was warmth. Not just in climate, but as a feeling. Despite living in a city now most of her life, it’s never been her style. She prefers the much more laid back and tight knit community she used to live in, rather than the claustrophobic and congested feel that New York City has always given her.

Community is another theme that comes up. In her current apartment she lives much closer to others than she did in the Philippines, but she admits she doesn’t know any of her neighbors. In the Philippines she was best friends with her neighbors, she used to hang out with them every day in the hot sun. In her current apartment building she never feels comfortable enough to ask her neighbors if they want to hang out or do homework together. She never gets the feeling like it is an appropriate thing to do.

However, when she goes back to the Philippines she gets those same feelings of community and that same warmth from all those years ago.

“The warm night air, and just like knowing there are stars there, it’s all somewhat metaphorical. It’s very comforting, too,” she said.

– by Isa Cava ’18