Burke Residency 24: Monica Laudiano•
Posted on February 14 2023
EMMA: Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your art? You are a self-taught artist, what have been some of the challenges and rewards of being self-taught?
MONICA: Hello, my name is Monica Laudiano, I am a Filipina-American artist based in Torrance, California. I have always been interested in art ever since I was a child. I would spend a lot of my time alone, stuck in my own world making arts and crafts, experimenting with creative softwares on my father’s Macintosh computer, and genuinely growing up being influenced and surrounded by a family full of gifted creatives. I started getting serious into photography in high school and after, attended Santa Monica College to pursue a major in photography. I realized school was not for me and dropped out. Although photography was my first love, I wanted to experiment different ways of sharing my visions and started teaching myself a variety of mediums. Mediums including marker, paint, digital, and punch needle embroidery. The challenges of being self-taught is not having structure and professional guidance such as in a classroom setting. Another challenge is going through loads of trial and error. The rewarding part about being self-taught is not having student loan debt and knowing that it is possible to achieve anything you set your mind to. It proved to me that by putting in the work, it has opened doors to opportunities such as this Burke Residency Program, professional graphic design projects and art commissions.
E: Your work is so unique, graphic, and almost hypnotizing with its detail and color! What inspires your work and aesthetic? How do you approach a new piece, and do you find the process meditative as you dive into the details?
M: Thank you! What inspires my work and aesthetic is my process of healing and that everything in the universe is energy and interconnected. In a lot of my work, I draw eyes which represent the third eye (the mind’s eye or inner eye). In a spiritual perspective, it signifies intuition, the connection to our higher and conscious self, and to see things beyond what is seen on the surface. The geometric shapes seen in my work are inspired by the dimensions that the third eye opens in itself. Lastly, the repetitive vessel-like patterns present in my work are inspired by past psychedelic experiences. I would vividly see the vessel-like patterns throughout every matter in front of me. To me, the vessel-like patterns represent the universal energy flow. I approach a new piece by staring into a blank canvas and transmuting whatever I am feeling and seeing in my mind’s eye onto the canvas. The process as I dive into the details of my work is meditative and therapeutic. Drawing the repetitive vessel-like patterns especially helps me calm and ride through my racing thoughts, becoming more self-aware, and just letting go.
E: You work with so many materials and surfaces - paint and canvas, ink and paper, embroidery, punch needle, wall murals … I even saw some amazing face paint on your portfolio! - do you have a favorite way to express your art? Do you find that your preferences ebb and flow? Are there other materials or media that you want to try?
M: Currently, my favorite way to express my art is punch needle embroidery. I am itching to make more punch needle pieces. Something about punching a needle and yarn through a cloth one by one, by hand, is like punching each of your pain and sorrows away. Using that energy and transmuting it into creating something beautiful is healing for me. I find that my preferences ebb and flow, I go with whatever I feel, bouncing back and forth from different mediums, and also depending on what materials I have at the moment. A material I want to try is clay. I want to make things like jewelry, keychains, and plant pots.
E: You’ve been receiving recognition for your art - awards and shows - since 2011. How has your work changed in the last decade? Obviously the events from 2020 to now have also had a major impact on, well, everything - have you found that your work has especially changed at all since 2020?
M: In the last decade, I started with photography in high school thinking I was solely pursuing photography. But as soon as I started to dabble in drawing more, and learn about spirituality, I was beginning to see how healing and joyful it was for me. As I was developing my style, I decided to get more serious in creating my own art versus capturing art. My work has also changed as time went by, learning new mediums and using new techniques. Because the events from 2020 to now have been so heavily impactful, it has caused a lot of fear, uncertainty, and anxiety. I was not creating as much as I did before the pandemic. I was feeling overwhelmed, down, and unmotivated. Doodling and coloring was not doing it for me, so I started to explore other mediums. Until I found out about punch needle, and created my first tapestry, it has brought back my joy of creating, and helped me cope with the current state of the world.
E: So many people turned to art and creativity during the Covid lockdown. Do you have any advice for folks who are trying to maintain an art practice of their own, or who may want to pursue art full time?
M: I advise folks to be patient with their art journey. Always be consistent in your practice and do not be overly discouraged when an art block occurs, because it happens. Take breaks, learn from mistakes, keep pushing forward, and do not forget to have fun! For someone who wants to pursue art full-time, I advise to make sure there is financial stability before making the complete transition into being full-time. That can be having a part-time job while consistently working on your art. Make the transition to full-time when you know as a matter of fact that your art can fund and support your livelihood.
E: You’re also a photographer! What are the differences in how you approach a photography project versus a new art piece or collection of work?
M: It truly depends on whatever ideas come to my mind. Currently, I have not been so active with my photography. I have been gravitating more towards creating and making things with my hands. I am always bouncing back and forth from different mediums, so I know some time in the future I will get back into it.
E: I LOVE that you have a free coloring page on your site (that I am definitely taking advantage of) - do you think you’d ever put together a coloring book? As I said, your work is almost hypnotizing so I can only imagine how engrossing and calming it would be to color!
M: Yes, I have thought of putting a coloring book together, it is definitely a goal of mine. Coloring books have always been meditative for me, so it would make sense to create one.
You can view and shop the collection of works from Monica in the shop at Burke through April 2023.