Monica Welsh is an artist living in Lamy, New Mexico, outside of Santa Fe. She grew up in Maryland near Washington, D.C. in the 1950s and 60s, with a strong interest in visual art through high school, taking art classes and spending time in Washington’s museums and galleries. While she began her college education at The Corcoran Gallery School of Art and The Maryland Art Institute College of Art in Baltimore, she completed her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology at Alfred University in New York State. It was as an anthropology student that Monica came to New Mexico in the mid 1970s and is where she has lived since, returning to drawing and painting. Monica has worked in a variety of mediums including graphite, ink, oil paint, egg tempera, collage and gouache. She has taken many art classes but is self taught in her current series which has evolved over the past decade.
About the work
My current paintings in gouache on paper evolved out of abstract cut paper collages. I was working with the arrangement of shapes on paper using patterned and painted papers. The shapes were irregular and often based on what felt good for my hand to cut as much as on what were visually interesting shapes. I began saving what I thought of as my “favorite shapes” to use when I had the right place in a future collage. These shapes formed stacks of colored paper in my studio until I realized I didn’t need to save them. These were my shapes to reproduce and use as often as I wanted. I began making templates in duplicate to lay out as plans for painted compositions. To these shapes, I eventually added in some regular shapes such as triangles, diamonds, squares, hexagons and circles. So while the collage process evolved into painting, the painting process involves working with placement and arrangement, much like collage. The proximity of shapes to each other, their repetition and overlays is one of my primary interests.
I think of the shapes I use as forming an alphabet which creates a kind of language or sense of language; or shapes are analogous to musical notes which in a composition create a rhythm, phrase or sound. It is in assembling the shapes, line and color, playing with the distance between shapes and overlapping shapes, that the composition comes into its’ wholeness. It is a careful and focused process yet is not entirely planned out. I am always searching for the overall space to come together as well as to surprise me with something I don’t already know. This is my goal more than the expression of something I know and want to “say” or describe.
Although my work is abstract without reference to anything representational, it also feels evocative of human, animal, bird, plant and insect forms, as well as a feeling of water, air, space and movement.