Photo courtesy of The Cr8ive / Instagram.

Maria Emma Ross was always known to be creative, but it was still something that she left on the backburner. 

It wasn’t until spring of 2022 that Ross began to prioritize her art with The Cr8ive, which is the name the Filipino-American artist showcases her work under. Ross works a 9 to 5 job, but added that hopefully, in the future, she can do The Cr8ive full-time.

Now, with over 700 followers on her Instagram account, Ross encourages her community to find common ground and support their children in their creative projects “as much as their careers.” 

Ross admitted that she wasn’t able to pursue her passion until now because of a deeply-rooted expectation in the Filipino community: work stability. 

“I feel like growing up we’ve always had the pressure of needing to be successful and being able to provide not only for ourselves but for our family in the future,” Ross told Slice of Culture.

Despite feeling the pressures, Ross was inspired by her Filipino culture, and created two pieces of art to symbolize it: “Bahala Ka Sa Buhay Mo” 2023 Acrylic on mirror and “Children of the Sun” 2023 Acrylic on mirror.

“Bahala Ka Sa Buhay Mo” translates to “do whatever you want in your life,” which Ross explained as “an endearing statement we’ve all heard growing up as a Filipino adolescent! Heck, my mom still says that to me and I’m 30!”

“Children of the Sun” has a quote painted on the mirror, which says “irony is condemning those who get too dark from being under the same sun that’s on our flag.”

“Colorism is deeply rooted in the Filipino culture and I definitely have experienced it growing up unfortunately,” Ross said.

The Cr8ive–which plays off “creative” and also uses the number “8” symbolizes infinity because “for art and creativity is infinite.” It became official in April 2022 when she made her first mirror piece for Thrifty Yard Sale, which is held by fellow local small business, Common Ground.

Ross then put more of her work on display for the first time in February 2023 with heART ATTACK, an artist showcase at the Film Factory in Jersey City. She’s gone on to be featured in other artist displays including at Irma’s Cafe, “All Eyes On Us,” and Human 2 Human, to name a few. 

Her most recent commissioned work was for the Body Mod Market on Oct. 22. The pop up event showcased local tattoo artists and piercers, estheticians and small businesses. Ross provided an interactive art installation and mirror visual. 

(The Cr8ive / Instagram)

“Just being able to showcase my art with my city has left me feeling so fulfilled,” Ross said. “I get the most love from the local small businesses and local artists!”

The Cr8ive offers to create art installations for events, small businesses and more. Her next upcoming event is with “Emerge” funded by the JC Arts and Culture on Nov. 17 at Mana Contemporary.

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