0:02Hi, my name is Monica Stroik. I’m from Alexandria, VA.
0:09Why did you want to become an artist? When did you know it was what you wanted to do?
0:17So I grew up in a family of artists, aunts and uncles and grandmothers. So it was very
0:26normal to receive art supplies as gifts. To go to art museums on the weekends. To learn
0:35different media from my aunts and uncles. And was also very influenced by the table
0:42conversations at dinner with my father who’s an architect and two brothers that ended up
0:48going into architecture as well. The exact moment of knowing when I was going to become
0:55an artist, it was always there. From when I was a child.
1:04Nature and pattern and repition seem to play a large role in your work. Can you talk more
1:12about your process and approach?
1:18So currently, my process involves being site specific. So I go to the location of where
1:27I’m going to be exhibiting the art work, a new body of work, and I do a lot of research.
1:33And that research involves drawings and photography, writing and sketching. And I compile all these
1:42different ideas and then go back to my studio lay them out and continue the brainstorm process
1:50of working with the ideas of space and place and thinking about the viewer coming into
2:01that space from a busy street depending on the site of the place.
2:08But thinking about the previous experiences of people coming through and wittnessing this
2:14space where the gallery is, and also thinking about the intersections of baths crossing
2:26and physcially and also intellectually.
2:33So then I begin to prepare the surfaces. I currently work on panel. And I begin to mix
2:42colors that represent those places. And I’m very drawn to the contrast of painterly vs.
2:54hard edge and perspective.
3:00Working with the space and the colors that I wittness in that place and space feeds into
3:06the actual work and what it ends up being. So there’s a very long process from the beginning
3:13to the end and what it ends up looking like.
3:22I’m inspired by a variety of artists. For example painterly artists such as Claire Sherman
3:34and Francis McCormick, also like her artists that create layers of contrast from painterly
3:44to gesturallty to hard-edge. And also artists that incorporate perspective in their work,
3:53like Dexter Dalwood and Mathais Wiesher and David Schnell.
4:00Has teaching changed the way you create art?
4:04So, I would say absolutely, because through the process of art making I find myself asking
4:14more questions. The kinds of questions I ask my students all the time. Like why am I using
4:21that particular color, why am I using that exact mark making? So asking more questions
4:29so I can get deeper and more at the root of the why and the how.
4:36How do you see the arc and/or progression of your work?
4:41So, I currently see my work as part of a loop (like that). Because when I was younger, when
4:50I started in undergrad, when I first started I saw myself as an abstract artist. Then I
4:57went and I studied in Florence Italyand became very obsessed with Landscape painting, and
5:05had some great teachers there that influenced me in that direction. So I spent probably
5:10the next 5 years painting landscapes, and that whole experience of being out in nature.
5:22Then, somewhere along the way, I took all the doodles I was doing in my sketchbook and
5:28threw them up on the wall, made them larger and started to become more of a gestural painter.
5:38So I went back to abstraction, and was very influenced by the C.O.B.R.A. painters at that
5:46At that point in time I felt that I had come full circle. That I had gone from abstraction
5:56back to abstraction. Now, having gone through grad school and getting my MFA I feel like
6:03I’ve taken another turn where I’m combing all of that past, but also pulling from this
6:12other part of myself which comes from my father and brothers who are architects and all of
6:24those conversations at dinner about space. So, I find it really fascinating and interesting
6:32to watch this development and am very curious to see where it takes me next.
6:44What is the toughest part about your job and what is the most rewarding part about your
6:53The toughest part is encouraging those students that do not believe in themselves, or trust
7:03themselves to become the artists that they can become. I believe everyone can become
7:09an artist if they choose to. So, that’s the hardest part – it’s getting them to see that.
7:18The most rewarding part of my job is defintely seeing the growth in the development, in each
7:27student. No matter how small or how large. And to spend so many years seeing these students
7:36grow, I feel its an honor and a privdledge to have that window into their lives and be
7:44part of that.
7:46In the age of the internet, people have more access to information than ever before. Art
7:53can reach across borders, waters, and time zones. What does it mean to be an artist today?
8:01So hopefully it means that artists are more informed and inspired by all the art happening
8:08around the world. And it means that artists can become more connected than ever before.
8:15It’s pretty powerful, to be quite honest.
8:19There’s the belief that the arts can play a role in society beyond the studio. How can
8:24artists bridge the relationship between global cities and the place they call home?
8:29I believe that the Art in Embassies program is playing a huge role in this aspect of showing
8:37work, bringing work to other cities, other countries, exposing people to other cultures
8:44that otherwise would never have been exposed.
8:46And then there’s other programs like sister city projects where artists will exchange
8:53studio spaces or have exhibitions in their city. Where they are bringing their art to
8:58a community that otherwise would never have been exposed to their work. Giving artist
9:03talks and through the internet, through websites, through online dialouge, through local organizations
9:10within communities that bring artists together to build the community and the dialouge.
9:19SOme of this is also through artists coming together and doing mural projects. Its really
9:25important that every city has an arts council, has ways in which their brininng the arts
9:31in to the community to create that culture, because without art there is no culture. So,
9:37a huge thank you, and a huge applause to the Art in Embassies program for all the work
9:42they are doing bringing art around the world and exposing all of us to eachother.
9:47How do you feel about your art being displayed in Ankara Turkey?
9:54So, what’s cool is that both my father and my husband have travelled to Turkey so even
10:02though I’m not there physically, just knowing that a piece of me is there is really amazing
10:11and I feel very honored to be part of this show. So, thank you so much for including
10:21It was important for the Ambassador to have an exhibition from different points of view.
10:26How a single work of art is open to multiple interpretations. Describe or comment on how
10:32your work fits into that theme.
10:34My painting “Mercury”was painted from a very specific place – a very specific vantage point
10:39in Arlington Virginia. But because of the way that it’s painted, introducing arbitrary
10:45colors – the organge, the yellow and the way that the backgronud is painterly, it could
10:52be a dark stormy night, it could be water, it could be solid ground. So it’s very dream-like
11:00and ethereal in that sense. So the viewer that comes to view this piece, based on their
11:08past experiences, it could take them to a speicic place or it could take them to a new
11:16land to a new window into a new world. So this painting fits in perfectly into this
11:24A great work of art can reveal the world in such a way that we never see it quite the
11:29same way again. Major museums around the world are encouraging patrons not to actually look
11:34at the art, but to pose in front of it. Then, to share their own oh-so-artful self-portraits
11:40with the hashtag #museumselfie. What is your opinion of the selfie, and how it became a
11:50So, to be honest, I’m actually really new to twitter this year and I don’t use it very
11:57often. But I really like the idea of the #museumselfie because it could generate a lot of conversations
12:05that wouldn’t otherwise happen, and also generate intreigue and propell people to go see exhibits
12:11that otherwise wouldn’t go because they’re seeing some little corner of something. Or
12:17maybe they just want to go and be part of that trend – the #museumselfie. But even so,
12:24it’s getting them to the museums, getting them to see these exhibits that they otherwise
12:28may not have seen, so I think it’s positive.
12:33Is instagram destroying civilization or making it totally awesome?
12:38So I’m actually also new to instagram this year, but I actually love it because I’m able
12:42to see the world through my friends’ eyes and to see things would have never seen. It’s
12:51actually inspired me to create a painting based off one of my friends posts. So, how
12:58cool is that?
13:01For the emerging artist, and the artist starting out, my advice is to keep creating your artwork
13:08no matter what and to find those opportunities, look for the opportunities, they will not
13:17come to you. Find those residenceis where you can keep growing within your work. And
13:26find those crit groups that you can find a group of people where you can feel comfortable
13:34sharing your work with to get critical feedback. I think the most important thing to remember
13:43is that you’re always growing. You’re always getting better, and your ideas are always
13:51evolving, so it’s a constant cycle of life and to never get stagnant and never stop,
14:03even when you don’t have ideas just keep sketching what you see before you.
14:12So, my best advice is: keep looking for the opportunities. Never give up.
14:20Thank you. It’s been fun talking to you.