May 17, 2023

MRI Trauma tech Omar Buenaventura discovers gift for art using reclaimed wood

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Inside NextFab North in Kensington, Omar Buenaventura is transforming reclaimed wood and turning it into works of art.

Omar is a self-taught artist and MRI technician who started creating art in 2020 when the pandemic was raging and he was in between jobs.

He and his wife, Nicky Uy, formed a collective called Bahay215 as a way to connect with fellow Filipinos in Philadelphia.

Nicky is an artist and seed keeper. They've created seed libraries to keep hard to find seeds that are important to Filipino culture alive and thriving.

The seed libraries are located at the Asian Arts Initiative and VietLead, and visitors of all cultures are invited to swap seeds.

Omar and Nicky met in Philadelphia but both grew up in the Philippines.

Omar's last name, Buenaventura, is Spanish for good fortune, a reminder of the conquering of the Philippines by Spain in 1521.

He considers his art an act of resistance against colonialism, and many of the works are inspired by the grandparents who raised him.

His art stands are often old sewing machines that he finds in the trash.

He upcycles bamboo too, and he stains his woods with all-natural ingredients like beet juice for red, turmeric for yellow and black walnut.

Omar has a residency at the DaVinci Art Alliance in Queen Village and an exhibition that just wrapped there is now on view at NextFab.

You can also see a honeycomb piece he made from wood from an old fire tower on display at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education

Omar Buenaventura: Bahay215 | Instagram | Facebook

NextFab North

1800 N. American Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19122

VietLead | Facebook | Instagram

320 W. Oregon Ave, Philadelphia, Pa 191480


Asian Arts Initiative | Facebook | Instagram

1219 Vine Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19107


Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education | Facebook | Instagram

8480 Hagy's Mill Road, Philadelphia, Pa. 19128