Artist’s exhibit at EdCC asks: What’s the meaning behind a name?

“Vassal Republic” at Edmonds Community College challenges viewers to check their assumptions.

“Jamal When He Loved Me” is part of an exhibit by Seattle artist Romson Regarde Bustillo at Edmonds Community College’s art gallery.

“Jamal When He Loved Me” is part of an exhibit by Seattle artist Romson Regarde Bustillo at Edmonds Community College’s art gallery.

The works by Seattle artist Romson Regarde Bustillo, now on exhibit at Edmonds Community College, asks its audience to consider: What’s in a name?

“Art is information as much as it is something inexplicable,” Bustillo said. “When we look at it, we have an emotional and a visceral reaction, but it is not removed from the way we’ve been conditioned to process information.”

His work entitled “Jamal When He Loved Me” is one example. It’s tied to how names can be interpreted depending on their context, he said.

That name — Jamal — is not uncommon in the Spanish-speaking and African-American communities and is relatively common and popular in Muslim communities, he said.

“It’s a masculine Arabic name meaning ‘beauty,’ ” he said. “In my childhood, I knew numerous people who were Jamals.”

But the meanings associated with a name can shift depending on politics, what’s in the news or in a movie, he said.

“And that in some cases can have rather dramatic impacts on how they’re perceived — good and not so good.”

Bustillo was born in the Philippines. In 1978, he and his family immigrated from Mindanao Island to Seattle.

Now 47, his studio is in Seattle’s Central District neighborhood. He teaches at the Pratt Fine Arts Center and the Seattle Art Museum.

He has travelled widely, including trips through western Europe, Southeast Asia, Mexico, Central America and Kenya.

He said he feels gifted to have his name, which he said he’s often asked about. Romson is a shortened version of Romero’s son, Regarde is his mother’s family name and Bustillo his father’s.

The 13 works in the Edmonds Community College gallery exhibit will remain on display through Dec. 7, some recent and some dating to 2011.

The name of the exhibit, “Vassal Republic,” continues this theme of word, mental and visual associations.

“Among a list of considerations, I’m exploring the role of homage and allegiance in our lives,” he said.

Citing the Magna Carta as one example, he said when the vassals have managed to assert themselves, “then change does happen.”

Bustillo said he hopes that the exhibit can affect those who see it and that they reconsider their thinking.

“One of the things I would ask is that I hope people consider how they translate information,” he said.

An artist’s reception is scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. Nov. 16.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or

If you go

What: Romson Regarde Bustillo’s “Vassal Republic”

When: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, through Dec. 7

Where: Edmonds Community College’s art gallery, Lynnwood Hall, 20212 68th Ave. W, Lynnwood

Cost: Free

More: 425-640-1459 or

Talk to us

More in Life

John Spadam owner, at Spada Farmhouse Brewery in Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Spada ready to show off new bar and restaurant in Snohomish

During the pandemic, the Spada family has been busy renovating an old building on First Street.

Precept Wine, the largest privately-owned wine company in Washington, recruited Seattle native Sarah Cabot to take over its pinot noir production in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 2014. (Precept Wine)
Six examples of award-winning pinot noir in the Northwest

The Willamette Valley of Oregon has a reputation for the red wine, but there are other success stories in the area.

Anastasia Allison poses with samples of her Kula Cloth, a pee cloth for women to use outdoors, near her home on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020 in Arlington, Washington. Allison's invention has caught the eye of outdoor retail giant REI and will being selling them in stores soon. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Kula Cloth tries to wipe away the mountains of toilet paper

An Arlington woman’s “spiritual awakening via pee cloth” led to a popular product for outdoorsy women.

Bacon, sausage and fresh pear team up for an "open ravioli" dish that's perfect for fall. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)
Bacon, sausage and pear open ravioli a perfect dish for fall

Instead of being stuffed inside dough pockets, the filling is used as a free-form sauce for pasta.

Jamie Oliver's Crispy Cheesy Mashed Potato Pie. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Kate Krader
Turn leftover mashed potatoes into a brilliant cheese pie

Jamie Oliver has a potato chapter in his new cookbook, “7 Ways: Easy Ideas for Every Day of the Week.”

Public Health Essentials! (Snohomish Health District)
Five things to know about COVID vaccine planning

Public Health Essentials! A blog by the Snohomish Health District.

Photo courtesy Craig Romano 
Boulder River hike
winter hikes
Here’s how to hike safely during the rainy season

The Washington Trails Association shares tips for planning a rainy-day hike and staying safe while you’re on the trail.

When it comes to flocked Christmas trees, everyone has strong opinions. (Jennifer Bardsley)
We need a little Christmas — no, make that a lot

It doesn’t matter if your tree is real or fake, pure or flocked. It just needs to fill your home with joy.

Nissan’s floating roof and V-motion grille design elements enhance the all-new 2021 Rogue. (Nissan) 20201130
Redesign for 2021 means a more sophisticated Nissan Rogue

The compact SUV, Nissan’s best seller, gets a power boost, improved ride and handling, and more tech.

Most Read