i've admired the work of oakland based artist monica canilao for quite some time. my friend katie first introduced me to her work. one of the first things i noticed about monica's work is the influence of folk art in her work. i really appreciate how she combines craft such as sewing, embroidery, lace, etc w/in her pieces. her work takes many different forms; drawing, printing, sculpture and installation. monica's materials vary from piece to piece from tea bags, wax paper, thread, hair, recycled envelopes, feathers to basic pen, paper and painting. it seems as though no item can not be turned into goodness w/ in her work. it's impressive.
monica is talented, driven and above all passionate. just by looking at her work you can catch glimpses into her own personal life and her convictions...you can tell she rides the rails, is against prisons, is pro- worker's rights, loves nature but is a city kid and is kind hearted and thoughtful. of course these are all guess of mine. but regardless, i love how passionately her work speaks w/ out really saying anything at all. i don't know, perhaps it's because i just walked in from an iron & wine show and am lovey and connected. but it's just refreshing to see an artist keeping it real.
looking at monica's work on her website alone, the devotion is clear. there is an enormous amount of feeling and dedication generating through her hands. take the impressive piece "owned worker" w/ the smoke stacks in the background, the assembly lines of workers, the small infinity symbol/circle of life that adorns the house of the headless body it's perched on. or "correctional institutions" w/ the looming electric chair, the words "i care for nothing" at the bottom and the large S.O.S imprinted on the building. so much is said in both of these pieces.
the titles of the pieces also really resonate w/ me. maybe it's because i am going through serious changes w/ moving and leaving such loved friends behind in san francisco that titles like "tender again", "when this smog clears from our throats we will still be in love w/ the same things" and "the distance makes no difference" all really strike a chord for me.
monica's work is vibrant, dynamic and speaks to not only my sentimental heart but also to my brain as just a person existing amongst many, many others. it tends to make me think a bit more about the bigger picture. w/ subjects such as capital punishment, workers rights, creating community and family it's hard not to think about w/ such powerful images.
her work also makes me want to lock myslef in my room and snap to it. her art instills an electricity in me that makes me want to create.
monica is showing in march w/ another one of my all time favorite artists; swoon at the luggage store. i've specifically planned my trip back to san francisco just in time for that show. i can barely wait.
** all photos gleaned from monica's website w/the artists sweet permission.