Monica

Edited: Olivia Suleimon

Photography: Sharon Marrero

"I've always been the black sheep of the family because I would always do what I wanted to do and think the things that I wanted to think. I used to be into conspiracy theories a lot when I was younger and the government and stuff like that and just thinking critically about everything and thinking critically about myself and a lot of self reflection. Although we are very very social, especially on the internet, you still feel very alone, especially if everyone looks so put together, you don’t really find anyone to relate to so I guess  I wanted to feel less alone and more understood and say,

 'This is something real and do you feel this too?'

That kind of thing."

 "The amount of followers I have has been going up exponentially but its not anything that I do personally, like ‘ follow me everyone’, its just something that happened, especially with the explore page now where if someone likes my stuff it will be on the explore page and people they follow will see it, and so they just come a lot easier.

With more eyes on you, it really made me question where it is that my image exists and what kind of space it is that I take up. I'm in your phone in your house and im existing within your space and within your brain. An image that I took in my room is existing in all different types of spaces where it wasn’t nessasarily intended to exist. So it just really made me question, who we are and how we portray ourselves? Especially in this very superficial platform, it's not nessasarily a negative thing its just very much about; like a selfie isn’t nessasarily suppose to be something deep, it’s an image of yourself, a picture of your food or a picture of you out with friends, it isn’t anything like super crazy and deep."

"It really made me think what it would be like if you take a not nesssarily attractive but just a very raw image and put it on this place where it's supposed to be about looking put together, like what that means about you and what kind of dialogue that would start and I just kept going more and more with it based on the feedback I was getting. I was also seeing it directly affecting the people that followed me, they would start doing something similar and it was very empowering, it was more so about I am a real human being I don’t nessasrily need to be so put together."

"In terms of painting I have to think about it a lot, especially because I work with the figure and particularly the female figure. It carries a lot of weight, historically, and also socially with what the female figure means. So I have to think a lot about what im trying to say and what it could mean. 

Censorship and stuff like that really sexualises the female body so I found that especially in my own photographic work that I would show in class or my own video work, the comment that I would always get was, 

'Why are you not naked?'

 This was because I would take a lot of pictures in my underwear in my room, it wasn’t necessarily a negative comment, it's about; you’re half naked versus nude. This is a very important aspect where you are sexualising yourself by covering up the parts that are just body parts but by covering them up it means that those body parts are things that should be covered up and should not be seen and then what does that mean?

Another thing I struggle with a lot in terms of painting is that it has a lot of history. Video art or even photography doesn’t have as much history as painting and if you look at female nudes within the history of art they have always been the most famous and the most well known ones are by men and mostly white men and they have been the ones that have been showing the idea of a woman and what a woman should be like and all that kind of stuff. So just you doing a similar pose its speaks to that history and if you're not too careful you could just be falling into it like appealing to male gaze and like the passive nude/ person on the canvas, so yeah its a lot to think about. "

"Don’t wait for inspiration to come to you, have it as more dependable and don’t worry because inspiration comes rarely. You'll be somewhere and it will just come and if you wait for that you will never really explore anything else and even just as simple as your technical skills if you're constantly waiting for that moment where it's like this is it, you won't even be able to render it or make it because you haven’t been honing your skill. So I think its just be more disciplined in your work habits, this doesn’t nessasrily have mean a very traditional way of working but just as long as you're even thinking about it - you need to be consistant in that."

"However another one of the things that I struggle with is that consistency; it's easier said than done. To just work, especially if you think a lot about things or you’re less intuitive about your process, it can be very difficult to sit down and say im going to make something because then it's like,

"What does this mean? How do I feel right now? Why should I make something? Is art even what I want to do?"

Not even that but does art even mean anything? 

And then you end up not doing anything, but as long as you have that habit, it can be really good, or even just a space for you to work in, it makes a difference."

@monicagh_ on instagram