“Filled with Pearls” is about my interest in the micro taking over the macro in terms of disease. Witnessing my father battle and succumb to cancer influenced using cancer as a metaphor to depict something that cannot be controlled. Through the research of color saturated microscopic images of diseased cells and external images of their affects using the binary of beauty and the grotesque aesthetically is a formal decision to have the viewer be attracted and repulsed simultaneously. The utilized space acts like a body to host the invasive entity and foster the dis-ease.
During my research I came across a book titled, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” A riveting story of a poor black women who in 1951, while being treated for cervical cancer at John Hopkins, had her cells taken from her without her knowledge. Henrietta’s cells were the first ever to be reproduced outside of the body and because of her cells scientists have been able to develop the polio vaccine, gene mapping, and cloning. Sold all over the world, neither she nor her family reaped any of the benefits. Today her cells are still being grown and it was not until this book was written that much was known about her. Henrietta Lack’s cells are known as the HeLa Cell. The part of the story that impacted me and inspired the site-specific installation was the description of her autopsy—“Tumors the size of baseballs had nearly replaced her kidneys, bladder, ovaries and uterus. And her other organs were so covered in small white tumors it looked as if someone had filled her with pearls.” Reading this, I flashbacked to when I stood alone with my father’s doctor being informed of his condition and that there was a mass the size of a baseball on his liver. I think now, was he too filled with pearls?
About the artist, Monique D. López
I remember the moment my mom sat me under a tree as a child and told me to look up. She asked me what I saw and I told her leaves and branches. My mom then said to look beyond and see the shapes between the leaves and branches; the positive and negative space. I’ve carried her teaching with me hroughout my artistic growth, mixing my crayons to discover new colors than just the ones in the box. Creating collages that covered my bedroom walls from floor to ceiling. Taking everyday materials, like thread and steel mesh scrubber and making them become something else than their initial use. In my process, I experiment with combining traditional and unconventional materials in an attempt to have the viewer question what they are seeing.
As an artist I can only express what I know from my experience. I grew up in one of barrios of Los Angeles. I focused on my education as a way out and attained my BFA in Drawing and Painting from CSU Long Beach in 2006. I made a life changing move to the bay area to attend California College of the Arts and received my MFA in Fine Art in 2010. Currently, I live, work, and am a practicing studio artist in San Francisco.
Throughout practice, research, and process the work has continued to metamorphosis from one body of work to the next. As I look at a tree now, the branches look like veins in the body and some types of tree bark look like a diseased liver. I also discovered that people do experience other things like disease. They are disruptive, consuming, invasive, and part of our everyday. We are all affected by these breakdowns and destructions in life’s construct. We try to make sense of what happened and attempt to put the pieces back together.
Date(s) - Fri, Jul 8, 2016
El Comalito Collective
302 Georgia Street, Vallejo
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