Cassi Paguio is a Filipino painter, digital artist, and sculptor based in New York City. A certified rescue diver and underwater photographer, Paguio was part of the Li Po Chun Coral Monitoring team in Hong Kong for two years and frequently undertakes survey dives to collect and study marine data. Her profound fascination with the ocean inspired her latest series, a collection of oil paintings that explore coral reefs and other varying marine habitats and push the boundaries of human interaction with water.
Alongside the preservation of marine ecosystems, Paguio’s work probes broader cultural themes that are close to her heart. Paguio takes traditional art historical depictions and subverts them from a decolonized perspective. Her Flow series, inspired by John Everett Millais’ Ophelia, shows Asian women-identifying models partially or entirely submerged in water. Larawan ng Binibini revisits an acclaimed classical painting by Filipino artist Juan Luna, Portrait of a Lady, replacing the European subject with a Morena woman–a dark-skinned Filipina–and the anonymous book with Noli Me Tángere, an account of the atrocities committed by the Spanish colonizers. Paguio subverts the canons of beauty imposed by the colonial mentality while creating a wholly new fine arts aesthetic; one that elevates Filipino culture, history, and women. Her masterfully executed work brims with passion and reverence for the wonders of nature, daring us to find unity across diversity.
Paguio is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design in New York City. She exhibited internationally, including in the Philippines, Hong Kong, and the United States. In addition to painting, she works as a graphic designer and gallery associate and continues to undertake diving expeditions around the world.