Interview: Monika Correa

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Figura Antropomorfa Masculina, a ceramic figure made in Quimbaya, Colombia dating back 600-1500 d.C. One of Monika's many influences

Monika's practice focuses on various perspectives of multicultural integration in westernised society, whilst challenging racial stereotypes through large scale immersive sculptures, installations and story telling illustrations. The installations and sculptures aim to sharpen society's awareness of the common cultural division in first generational Australians' every day lives and to provide a space for the spectator to participate in being apart of the prominent social division of race and culture.

From the 5th - 11th of June, Monika shared her practice, processes, inspiration and thinking behind some of her current works.

Interviewed by Isabel Hood

IH: You work in various mediums, from sculpture, installation and illustration. Are there any others and do you have a favourite?

MC: I have always been a collector of scrap materials and recycled goods. Lately i’ve used cardboard pieces left over from moving boxes and that has been a great and inexpensive way to experiment with form and collage. I find going back to basics is an effective way to revisit initial themes of your current concept, or investigate further.

At the moment, I'm really enjoying the process of making sculptural pieces. It’s been a really exciting experience in the last year challenging the way I produce work since I have been traditionally working with 2D art and design. Working with plaster and paper maché has to be some of my favourite materials to use. Its enabled me to bring my illustrations from a figurative world to real life where the viewer can immerse themselves amongst the objects and momentarily be apart of a reflective world of my own.

IH: Do you find one particular medium communicates certain ideas better than others?

MC: Yes, most definitely. My upcoming exhibition apart of my Erotica Exoticá series called Volume 2. Blood Clams is all about questioning the inability to differentiate the two binary terms ‘exotic’ and ‘foreign’; and the common sexualisation on multicultural men and women. Specifically speaking, the sexualisation and negative representations of latinx people. To depict this in the most effective sense, I’ve chosen to create a series of sculptures based off real life found and living objects that are enlarged, exaggerated, and physically misrepresented. For this series of works, 3D sculpture is the most adaptable and immersive way to project these obscure ideologies to the audience.

IH: What inspires your use of bold colour and unique illustration style?

MC: Colombia is one of the many countries in South America that embraces colour, specifically in their architecture and landscape. I stayed in Colombia for 10 months in 2015-2016 and it strongly influenced the way I integrated colour into my life and art practice. Sculptures in my recent series Erotica Exoticá carry many undergirding themes, one relating to land and emotional connectivity. I have chosen to use earth tones; burnt oranges, browns and green resembling the buildings and landscape.

🔴hello🔴 #design #collage #papercut

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As for my illustration style, that came quite naturally with practice. I have only recently embraced my drawings while I was traveling. It was very easy to carry around a sketch book and ink pen and draw what was in front of me rather then just photographing a place or person and storing it amongst thousands of other photographs on my laptop. It was also a creative fix for me when i hadn’t done anything with tactile materials in a few days.

IH: I really loved your ’united against hate’ and ‘impeach’ posters. Do you recognise a relationship between creating work with the intent of social or political impact and bright, bold and approachable illustrations?

MC: Thank-you! My girl Tayla Jay Haggarty and myself painted these posters for the Womens March and Anti-trump Inauguration rally. We were very seriously convinced that everyone would have similar political posters, but as soon as we arrived we realised ours were very colourful; visually and verbally. We were very pleased to see that fellow ralliers loved what we did and appreciated the creative thought and contribution. I'm glad that our creative and approachable sensibility raised questions and ignited discussions amongst passer-byres and viewers on social media regardless of negative and positive comments. Although this was something rather a little more personal, I do make an effort in my art practice to provide room for healthy debates.

IH: I’ll admit I’ve been doing some snooping before we asked you to do the takeover. You’re currently studying interior design? And had a really awesome feature on The Design Kids. In your practise, do you have a personal conflict with labelling yourself as an artist or designer?

MC: I most definitely have thought about this. I had just come back from Europe after doing an artist residency in Berlin and felt inspired to produce a series of works and was not ready to stop, if anything I was just getting started and had set goals about where I wanted my practice to go. I also didn't feel like I was ready to start the 9-5 grind. That intimidated me. I also wasn't ready to be done with education so that door stayed open for me to apply for my second degree in commercial interior design.

I definitely have had this personal undergirding pressure that I either needed to be all in or all out when it came to fine arts. I was recently told by a mentor that I needed to stop this internal conflict of having to choose one or the other. I understand design and fine art are two very different practices, I have had to learn to meet clients needs, while also doing whatever the hell I want when it comes to my personal practice. I know some people might struggle with that balance, but Im pretty content with choosing the lifestyle and would eventually love to merge the two together in future career opportunities. My absolute dream brief would be to work alongside a power team of female architects and designers and design and construct a large contemporary gallery.

IH: You recently moved to an inner-city Brisbane suburb and work from a studio in your place. Do you enjoy having your working area so close? Is the way you organise and separate your work and living spaces important?

MC: I think its great having my little studio space, although I have somewhat always made it a priority to make sure that thats possible in past homes or I just make it happen somehow (garages or half dinning rooms).

Since moving into a new place I have struggled a bit with time management I'll admit, its fair to say studying trimester periods is not easy and also live with a bunch of fun powerful ladies who love beers and a boogie and its hard to say no. I am still trying to figure out that balance and I think it takes practice and a bit of determination. It all depends on how you work and what your work entails. I work most efficiently at night time, so having my space in the house has always been convenient.

IH: Do you collect anything and does it contribute to your style of illustration and sculpture?

MC: Im not really much of a collector, I do go through waves of liking a style or theme a lot and absolutely killing it until I'm sick to death of it and then ill move onto the next thing. (During my tweens and teens I did make and collect my own RnB mix CD’s). The influence of my style has really stemmed more from my cultural heritage, Neolithic and Palaeolithic artefacts, places I've travelled to and other artists or designers.

IH: Who are those Artists that influence your work?

MC: Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Moana hatoum and Marcel broodthaers are artists that I have followed recently for their experiences and perceptions of cultural and racial fetishism, integration, and division. Their works yet individually unique in medium, explore these similar themes of world conflicts and cultural differences; issues that I am fascinated by.

Monika Correa took over the In Residence Instagram 5-11 June, 2017. See more of her work at www.monikacorrea.com.au

Keep up with our Instagram Takeovers, news, events and new posts via @inresidence_ari