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Isola Tong

Grad Student
Environmental Art + Social Practice MFA Candidate

isola tong is a transpinay artist and architect interested in what we lose in translation and what is created in these transient zones. Her community-specific research and practice involve counter-imagination and place-making embedded in animism, incorporating its connective power, and acknowledging its frictions with postcolonial realities while questioning reigning perspectives of natural science, translated into soundings, poetry, gatherings, and visualizations of relational specificities and ecologies. Invested in the mystery of nature, time, as well as intersections of displacement, tong sees her role as a transducer appropriating materials from archives and the built/natural environment. Intersubjectivity and intertextuality are foregrounded in her ritualistic making and site-specific performances in the public realm that problematizes the contradiction of finding belongingness in an itinerant existence. As part of her socially engaged practice, she hosts Transcestral Gatherings, an experimental space for trans* Filipinxs in diasporic communities to connect with their complicated heritage, offering respite, affinity, and remembrance through a critical lens. Rooted in collaborative placemaking guided by engaged pedagogy, this transformative practice creates a liminal space for reimagining, reinventing, and reflecting upon our unstable becomings, challenging imperial paradigms.


Graduated with a BS in Architecture from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, the Philippines, and worked as an architect in Osaka, Japan; she is currently a graduate student in the MFA Environmental Art and Social Practice program at UC Santa Cruz, California.