Published on August 20, 2018. Interview by 2018 Summer Intern, Emma Brodeur. Karina A. Monroy is a Chicana mixed media installation artist who just moved to Charlottesville from Southern California. She is the Fall 2018 Artist-in-Residence.
Karina is our fifth featured 2018 artist in our third 7x7x7 Series, which asks 7 questions to 7 Charlottesville artists and published once a week for 7 weeks.
If you had a free afternoon in Charlottesville what would you do or where would you go?
If I had a free afternoon in Charlottesville, I would go to CIRCA to look for sewing supplies and baskets. (I am obsessed with baskets). Then I would head to my studio space and work!
Describe your artistic work in 7 words.
Abuelitaesque. Comforting. Healing. Nourishing. Humilde (humble). Feminine. Ancestral.
Who or what inspires your current work?
My work is inspired by the women in my life. Everything I make can be traced to a tradition or a memory associated with a woman that played a significant role in my life. Their hobbies, their stories, their struggles are all reflected in my work.
Consider one piece you’re working on right now. Give us a snippet of your routine—from start to finish, what goes into making it?
I’ve been starting off with thinking about which food/fruit or plant I’d like create. Then I choose the size of the embroidery hoop I’m planning to use. Once I’ve chosen the embroidery hoop, I place my fabric in the hope and stretch it very tight, almost like a canvas. The fabric I’ve been using is thin muslin. From there I choose my color palette and start painting! I’m not making sketches or anything beforehand right now. I think working mostly from my memory is giving a very nostalgic feeling to my work right now. I’m using very watered down acrylics right now, and it’s creating this nice bleed affect on the fabric. It’s also giving me less control over lines and shapes, which I’m really enjoying! After the base painting is done and dry, I choose my threads and start sewing!
What have you learned about yourself as a person through the experience of making art?
I’ve learned that art and making is my process of self discovery and self love.
I’ve learned that I love making and I need to do it for myself and for other women. Art and creating has been a healing process for me since I can remember. It’s always been a way for me to have control over something positive and beautiful, especially during times in my life where I didn’t have much control over some not so positive things happening. It’s been a way to connect with my family and my Mexican roots/traditions. To uplift the women in my life, and to uplift myself. To tell them, I see what you do, what you deal with and I value it. I think it’s beautiful and I think it’s art.
What would you like to see happen in Charlottesville to better support artists in our community?
I would love to see more opportunities like this residency! Having working space is very important to artists. It’s a luxury that most of us can’t afford.
What is currently on your studio/work desk?
Currently on my studio desk there is, a basket with sewing materials. (Fabric, threads, needles, scissors etc). There is a wooden box of acrylic paints. There is a mason jar filled with paint brushes. A tiny little baby hierba buena (mint) plant in a pot. A little red wooden horse. My “brujita” mug for tea. And a book about medicinal plants native to Mexico. Which is a copy of one of the books my grandfather used to study healing. And it’s all sitting on a red embroidered shawl that I got at a thrift store.
The opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the artist and do not necessarily represent the policies or positions of NCAI.
Karina is currently working as Program Coordinator for Creciendo Juntos. She hopes that her creative skills and passion for social justice will bring change to Charlottesville. In addition to her community and artistic work, Karina takes joy in the little things in life like cooking, sewing, eating chocolate, drinking tea with her abuelita, and talking to her plantitas.