Were you interested in art as a child? If so, what were your favorite things to create?
I was involved in more performance-based art forms when I was a child. I loved going to the theatre in New York, and one of my majors in college was theatre. As a child, I enjoyed more "silent" types of performance, such as mime. As a theatre major, I thought I would be more engaged in the performance aspect of the theatre, but I quickly realized that I enjoyed the design aspect much more. I loved creating scale models, drafting, and making color renderings of costumes.
Do you have a creative family? How does your family feel about you being an artist?
I sang gospel music as a child with my family. Many people in my extended family played multiple bluegrass instruments, and there was always what my grandfather called the "best instruments", our voices. I fantasized that our family were modern day Von Trapps. Today, my sister is a singer/ songwriter, my cousin is an indie filmmaker, and my brother-in-law is a lighting designer in Hollywood. My family is more performance-based, so visual art is something that separates me in some way, although I can't describe exactly how. There is the introspective, more inward quality of a visual artist as opposed to the more outward quality of someone who performs.
Take us through a typical day in your world.
I make a living as a psychotherapist, who works with children, adolescents, and families. I am fervent about and committed to my work as a therapist. I enjoy doing play therapy and find that it is connected to my work as a visual artist in ways that continue to amaze me. Play therapy is extraordinarily metaphorical, which suits my work as an abstract artist. The very word "play" implies my approach to painting. It is a way I unwind at the end of the day. My curiosity as a therapist translates into my visual art, as I approach painting with an innate questioning of my experiences, beliefs, and environment.
Who are some of your favorite peers making art today?
My favorite peers making art today are without a doubt my friends, who are artists. They are inspiring to me and create work that challenges me in myriad ways. They are supportive and nurturing without being competitive, and, besides, they are great company!
Who are some of your favorite famous artists?
My favorite famous artists who immediately spring to mind are Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Joan Mitchell, Carroll Dunham, Alyson Fox, John Singer Sargent, David Park, Barbara Rae, Otto Dix, and Jennifer Wen Ma.
Do you like to work in silence or do you prefer to listen to music when you work?
I find that I work best in silence. At the end of the day, it gives me a chance to reflect and meditate. Rarely do I listen to music while I paint. I couldn't live without music, but for some reason it distracts me from painting. I do love when my dogs come into my studio and root around, though.
Have you ever had an awakening moment as an artist where something new clicked into place and propelled you to a new level as an artist? Tell us about that experience.
Definitely! When I visit art museums, I am struck with new knowledge on both a cognitive level as well as an intuitive one. I just can't wait to fly back home and make art! Viewing a living, breathing piece of art is a transformative experience for me. There is always a sense of curiosity and new learning for me. An example is when I saw Monet's Water Lilies in a museum. I really "got" it for the first time. I had always seen them in books, and I thought they were beautiful. But I had never "seen" them, and, as the saying goes, "what is seen cannot be unseen." I never realized how big they were. Seeing art in a book is great and inspiring, of course, but I did not quite imagine Monet's Water Lilies being the size of entire gallery walls. While at the museum I learned for the first time, that Monet suffered from cataracts, and this naturally changed the way in which he "saw" and influenced his palette. I was amazed that the same images I had seen on paper since childhood, images that had become banal to me, were suddenly transformed in my sight.
It's so wonderful to get to know the person behind the artwork and I want to thank Monica for her thoughtful and interesting interview. I too was struck by Monet's Water Lilies at the MOMA and can really relate to that sense of awe that she described. Please do go on to visit her websites and consider purchasing the work of this incredible artist!