Page 18 - SLO Visitor's Guide - Fall 2022
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San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo Museum of Art presents Alyssa Monks: Be Perfectly Still, a Retrospective
 Alyssa Monks first museum ret- rospective is on view through Nov 13, 2022
The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (SLOMA) is pleased to present the first museum retrospec- tive by contemporary artist Alyssa Monks. The exhibition brings to- gether paintings that span the arc of Monks’ career from the early 2000’s to recent works created during
the pandemic. Through paintings that are expressive, lush, and often intimate, Monks conveys the very essence of being human through works that meditate on love, loss, and the perennial search for self.
The paintings included in
this exhibition feature large-scale portraits of Monks and those closest to her portrayed in vulner- able or intimate contexts. Often capturing fragmented elements of a scene, or layering together various
spaces and moments, Monks’ works disorient the viewer and invite re- flection on one’s own vulnerability. Through the use of thickly applied brushstrokes, and her tendency to flip the background and foreground
using semi-transparent filters of glass, vinyl, steam, water or foliage over shallow spaces, Monks creates surface tension in her work that challenges easy interpretation of her subject matter.
“Alyssa Monks’ paintings capture something essential about the human experience which we can all relate to on some level,”
said SLOMA Chief Curator Emma Saperstein. “I first fell in love with Monks’ work as a teenager and my fascination with her painting has only continued to grow as her work has evolved. We feel truly honored to be able to present such a large and sweeping body of her work together for the first time.”
From her earliest works, Monks has created paintings that are at once naturalistic, expressive and elusive. “Charade” (2010) confronts
the viewer with a woman who could just as easily be struggling for the surface as she could be giving herself a moment alone with her thoughts. Offering only a fractured scene, the work invites the viewer to reflect on personal experiences.
With later works, such as “It’s All Under Control” (2021), Monks uses her interest in flipping fore and backgrounds to create an obscured and abstracted surface, capturing the panic and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic through a lone figure standing behind what appears as layered glass. In works like “Bait” (2010) Monks asserts the confidence of her subject, meeting the viewers gaze head on, captur- ing the strength of the painter, the viewer, and the subject.
Monks has said of her work, “My intention is to transfer the intimacy and vulnerability of my human experience into paint for someone else to connect to. Paint- ings are objects you need to be in the same room with to sense the energy in their surfaces. I like mine to be as intimate as possible, the painted surface like a fossil, record- ing every gesture and decision.”
Alyssa Monk lives and paints in Brooklyn. Born 1977 in New Jersey, Alyssa began oil painting as a child. She studied at The New School in New York and earned her B.A. from Boston College in 1999. During
this time she studied painting at Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence and went on to earn her M.F.A. from
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