I’m Jonah Calinawan (JO-nah ca-lee-NA-wan), and I’m an accountant turned artist from the seaport city of Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Through my cyanotype photographs, I tell stories of hope, wonder, and self-discovery.
I did not plan to be an artist. I bought my first camera in 2002 on a whim.
In 2008, I attended a photography workshop where the instructor suggested a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. I thought about it for a long time. Why waste money on an arts degree? After many cost vs. benefit analyses, I decided in 2010 to enroll at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco while working full time.
Completing my MFA four years later in 2014, I’m amazed at the unintended path I embarked on. I specialize in a hand-applied 19th-century printing process called cyanotype—giving my prints their deep blue color. I’ve exhibited my cyanotypes locally and internationally—from China, the US, and the UK. Buying that camera changed the trajectory of my life.
In 2017, I discovered FIRE, the “Financial Independence Retire Early” movement. After many what-if analyses and financial modeling, I quit my job in 2019 to explore art full time.
Much like the man in my ongoing photographic series A Million Suns, I search for the future by connecting the dots of my former life as accountant to the new one as artist.
What happens next? I have no idea, and that’s the best part.
Master of Fine Arts in Photography
CPA Certified Public Accountant (Illinois, USA)
Chartered Professional Accountant (Canada)
Bachelor of Mathematics
2018 Overlea ArtsFest, 1st PRIZE, Baltimore, MD.
2017 National Arts Program Exhibition, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1st PRIZE, Baltimore, MD
Altered Realities, Maryland Art Place, Maryland, USA.
In Transit, VETS Gallery, Rhode Island, USA.
A Cartography of Dreams, Dimbola Museum, Isle of Wight, UK.
Lemniscate of Diffusion, A Smith Gallery, Texas.
Diffusion Annual Feature, One Twelve Publishing.
Art of Science, Maryland Science Center.
(re)View: Explorations in Human Nature, Art Intersection Gallery, Arizona.
Photowork 2015, 3rd PRIZE, Barrett Art Gallery, New York.
Memory, see+ Gallery, Beijing, China.
Light Sensitive, Art Intersection, Arizona.
Shenzhen International Photography Festival, Guangdong, China.