12 Questions: Monika Meler

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1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life? 

Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina

I am also a big fan of almost anything Rebecca Solnit writes but her books Men Explain Things to Me and A Field Guide to Getting Lost have been monumental in the way I think about my art and the world around me. 


2. What are you currently working on?

I am working on a series that combines printmaking and paper cuts that explore ideas about the Anthropocene, the geologic term for the age of man.  I am interested int he ways people value representations of nature in their home but don't seem to have the same reverence for actual nature.  It's a robust contradiction. 


3. How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure?

I like to think of my entire history as an artist as a history of failure.  This way, each thing I make doesn't hold precious value and I feel free to take risks.  It's really all failure and while this may sound discouraging, it's actually really freeing.  With everything going on in my life (work, kids, family), my only goal is to keep making art, it's the only thing that I pressure myself to do. How good or bad it is really doesn't matter. 


4. What is your most unusual habit?

I wake up very very early. I do not keep the hours that artists are known for. Like my dad, I like to be in bed by 9:30 and up by 4 am.  He did it because "the plants were most beautiful at that time." I do it because I love the silence of 4 am. 

I refuse to read anything about a book before I read it, for fear that any synopsis/review will ruin it for me. This gets me into trouble sometimes. 


5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why?

Frida Kahlo: Because if I could get anyone to paint my self portrait, I would want it to be the most qualified person I can think of. Swoon: Because I love her mark, the way she draws Jenny Saville: For the same reason why I would want Frida Kahlo to paint my portrait. 


6. What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office? What is your studio like? Could you share an image?

My studio is a disaster, I work in chaos. I have three little kids and my studio is currently partially integrated into my house.  Right now, the youngest one is climbing on my back as I type this. But generally, I love to work in visual chaos, having many piles of things around me. I love seeing Trenton Doyle Hancock's studio on Art 21. It's a mess and just looking at visual chaos fills me with inspiration and ideas. My studio folds into a single table that I "fold out" onto the floor when the kids go to bed. I love working on the floor. I pride myself on the fact that this studio can happen anywhere, in my home, in a hotel room, and eventually hopefully in a more official and dedicated space.

I have a few photos of working spaces but honestly, my studio is always moving. I am partially in my house, partially in my work office and often in different print shops.