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Wonder Wander - 1 Womyn Show

Mental Compass

Jt Gonzales


Sigwada Knicolai is not afraid to admit it.  She has a bipolar disorder.  But this challenge that life has thrown her way, if it is to be deemed that, doesn’t faze this plucky pop-surrealist.


Meet Sigwada, a.k.a. Ana.  A graduate of the Fine Arts program of the University of the Philippines – Cebu, the adopted Cebuana has tried her hand at various fields, including teaching for nine years at an exclusive private boy’s high school in Manila. But art called, and so she picked up some brushes.  But, yeah, Sigwada is bipolar.

She feels moods.  A whirlwind of emotions. Torrents.  Some, even, that threaten to overcome.  Ana’s disorder is a constant – it never allows her to ignore its presence, a cocktail of chemicals that trigger inexplicable and often unwanted reactions.  But Ana is not to be denied her art, and so she pierces through, and then channels, all those potentially paralyzing phenomena coursing through her into delightfully whimsical characters that gambol within her colorful canvasses.


What springs forth is a veritable zoo of creatures.  Woebegone whales (perhaps, a tiny bit depressed.).  Bouncing bunnies. (Hyper, much?) Spaced out astro-cats.  Ana creates characters that clearly serve as extensions of herself, reflecting not just personal experiences and interpretations, but also representations of fluctuating emotional states.

Ana’s bipolarity gives her a unique perspective, as well as imbues her with a sense of mission: she aims to bring a spotlight to mental health, despite the stigma, and despite the challenges, so that she can inspire others caught in the same spinning, dizzying whirl. While she occasionally delves into social commentary and gender issues within her canvasses, Ana’s art tries to maintain its focus on mental health.


For Ana, life isn’t just accepting what fate deals her – it’s about grabbing it, and transforming it into something more positive and impactful.  At the same time, as she advocates for mental health awareness, she has also spearheaded fund-raising shows for various causes, including breast cancer.  All these, while participating in various exhibits to flex her craft and sound her message.  A featured artist at the 2023 Modern and Contemporary Art Festival, Ana’s works have been seen in Greyspace, Qube, Kaida Contemporary, Art in the Park, and the Pinto Art Museum.

And so, we come to Wonder Wander, Ana’s pocket solo exhibit at gallery. sort of.


Slated to open on May 19, Wonder Wander showcases Knicolai’s cast of characters within the universe of Lewis Carroll, allowing them to experience giddy adventures while enveloped by an unstable and potentially menacing environment.  (Sounds familiar?)  Indeed, Ana’s magicked characters wander around, drinking potions and swimming in tears, and whilst they are in Wonderland, we, the audience, are over the moon. Such a delightful treat to behold.


While acrylic serves as Ana’s preferred primary medium, for this solo exhibition, she has carefully assembled a dainty collection of watercolors, this choice of medium emphasizing the delicacy and fragility of life, precious as it is. 


Isn’t that, then, a wonder worth wandering into?

Wonder Wander will open its doors at 4pm on May 19, 2024.

gallery. sort of. is located at 37 Camaro St. Fairview Quezon City.


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