Myra Kalaw

Artist Statement

I plan to create an online store to sell my wallets and origami. I also plan to write more poetry, do more printing, and make books.


I LOVE PAPER as much as I love print media. Paper is a highly versatile, renewable material that is lightweight, flexible, strong, and portable. It can be folded and unfolded for transport, and can withstand a lot of pressure. I know how to make paper, print on it, and bind the pages into a book. Making paper wallets allows me to combine my skills in bookmaking and origami. I see the potential in making an artful product that is simple and practical, but well-made and can be carried close to the body and taken to different places around the city.


Poetry and music and language are my inspiration, and travel as well. Living in cities, and navigating with fold-up maps and torn ticket stubs inspire me to create paper wallets from pieces of paper I encounter throughout the day -- found maps, old calendars, ticket stubs, book cloth scraps, gift wrap, comic books, wallpapers, magazines and flyers, ink can labels, handmade papers, printers’ proof sheets, candy wrappers, canned food labels, newspapers, etc.

Why Chicago?

Chicago is a beautiful city to see on foot, on a bike, or on public transportation. The way the city’s architecture and public sculptures invite play and participation create a sense of belonging to a place. The lakeside trail, the many parks and the museums, the big library downtown – all welcome places for the frugal and the wise, also at times offer refuge and inspiration to those in need. These public places become great equalizers of society, and Chicago is full of these.

I have lived in different neighborhoods around the city, but the Portage Park neighborhood on the Northwest side of Chicago remains my anchor. My family has found a home there for more than twenty years, and I like the quiet, tree-lined streets, which become the playground of the neighborhood kids. My grandma and my aunt’s family live a few blocks away, and it’s nice to be able to just cross the street to see them. Living in a good working-class neighborhood inspires me to always improve my work ethic.


Myra Kalaw was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. She earned her smarts walking the streets of QC, SM, and SJ. Her summers were spent eating coconuts and mangoes in the northern provinces of Calabarzon, Luzon. A few years ago, she went back to the motherland to follow the trail of her paternal ancestry through the central and southern provinces. She hopes to travel to parts unknown and meet her mother's relatives someday. She currently lives and works in Chicago, writes poetry, and makes origami.