Monica Vidal Blow Up Heart

November 20, 2009 – January 9, 2010 John M. O'Quinn Gallery

Artist Statement

Several years ago I sat down and drew two small circus tents on a hilltop. At the time, they were just one in a series of twinned object drawings that I had been doing: twin mountains, twinned lakes, twinned trees, and, finally, twinned tents. I was drawing dual objects to address the symmetry of the body. I drew tents because I was calling upon my childhood memories to provide the iconography of these drawings and I kept thinking about a very specific event. When I was eight I went to see a circus for the first time. It took place in the local civic center and I distinctly remember asking, “Where’s the tent?” I knew what a circus was supposed to look like and that was not it. Since that moment, the image of a tent stirs in me a mixture of longing, escape, and loss.

These little tents were more elaborate than your average circus tent, with horizontal stripes and a range of colors beyond primary. They also had pink bubbles and blooms of black tendrils coming from their peaks, a conscious nod to the corporeal. I kept drawing tents, struck with the power of that memory, and in time they metamorphosed and fused with the body colors and shapes. They flattened into landscapes, split, and merged. I came to think of these new manifestations of that little drawing as Hives.

For this exhibition, I wanted to bring a Hive to “life” for myself and the viewer. Tumor Hive is inspired by a photograph of a large tumor that I had to have removed two years ago. To have major surgery was traumatic but to be without the tumor was life-changing. I found the image of the tumor to be both repulsive but also poetic. I had its colors and textures in mind when selecting the materials for this piece.

I have also been putting images of myself into the drawings. I see myself as an agent and representative of transformation. For this role, I referenced a ritual from the Aztec mythology of Xipe Totec, a deity representing life and rebirth. In the actual ritual, l a worshipper would wear a flayed human skin which would rot off and be said to hold magical properties. My garment of transformation is made of felt, as it seemed that a symbolic interpretation of this idea was more than sufficient.

Please enjoy your immersion into the work as much as I have. Thank you for experiencing it with me”