Meet Your Maker Monday: Monica Villarreal
This is the third in a series of crossover MYMM profiles with Project Row Houses artists who participated in "Process and Action: An Exploration of Ideas." Meet Monica Villarreal, whose installation "Migration Is?" is part of Round 41 at 2515 Holman.
What is your name, company, URL, and social media links?
What did you make for Project Row Houses?
I've presented a series of works exploring the experiences of Latin America migrant workers through the use of printmaking, installations, large-scale paintings, and live performances. The goal is to analyze the treatment of migrant workers and shift discourse from their worth as commoditized bodies to their intrinsic value as human beings.
My Project Row Houses home during the round 41, all female artists exhibit, was titled Migration is? Migrant workers have played a key role in the development of what we now call the United States. As the number of migrant workers from Latin America continues to rise, discourse surrounding these migrations focuses on their value as human beings by treating their bodies as exploitable commodities. The intention of Migration is? is to address and reframe this discussion by examining migration from the underrepresented perspective of the migrant. For the opening, I created an installation that acclimates audiences to the journey people take upon migrating from Latino America to the US in search of work and better opportunities. This installation exhibits the inhuman culture of the US-Mexico border.
The first program in my house, featured a special performance and storytelling collaboration with musicians Nick Gaitan and Roberto Rodriguez III. We use traditional Mexican conjunto music to create original songs that tell of real life stories of migrant workers.
The second program, "The Natural Flow of Migration" was a collaboration with master printer Armando Rodriguez. This iteration of "Migration Is?" features large-scale prints and small relief prints made with Mexican printmaking techniques. This collaboration personified the natural flow of plants and animals across national borders as a characterization of migrant stories. Collaborations with more Latino and Black artists will take place during the run of my exhibition. The purpose for this is to continue to speak about issues that effect both communities in hopes of close the gap and promoting Black and Brown unity.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I don't ever have a typical day. Making art is only one of the many things I do. I have a full time job as a web designer for the College of Sciences and Technology at UHD and I'm currently completing my graduate degree at UH- Clear Lake. I'm a traditional Aztec dancer and practice at least once a week. As an Aztec dancer I participate in indigenous ceremonies, protest and educational presentations. I'm also one of the founders and organizers of Creative Women Unite, a grassroots organization that creates space where women can express themselves freely through arts. I don't have typical days my daily life is constantly changing.
What brought you to Houston?
I was born and raised in Houston; it’s the fourth biggest city in the country and it's one of the least expensive cities to live in. Locally, I have bonded with loving communities of activist, artists and spiritual people. No matter where I go Houston, will always be home.
What are your inspirations and how do they guide your work?
I aspire to create work that moves peoples spirit, that changes their prospective about how we treat each other and the planet.
What's next for you?
My next big accomplishment is completing my graduate degree. After graduate school, I plan on apply to out of state artist residencies and I hope to travel a bit. In the future, I would like to go back to school to acquire an MFA or a Ph.D. I would like to believe I'm open for any possibility.
What do you want people to know about your work?
My art isn't beautiful decorative or colorful art pieces that sell in art galleries. My art is usually in the form of performance pieces, prints, photography, videos and installations that tell stories about marginalized and often exploited communities. I purposely make art that is critical and pushes the envelope. Art that brings awareness to worldwide human right issues that deserve attention but usually doesn't receive it. My spiritual practices continues to guide me to create art that speaks to the soul. My practice focuses on learning about my indigenous heritage and ancestral roots in order to decolonize from a capitalistic thought process that justifies injustice against people, animals and the planet.