Once again, I’m donating art to the Art for Life benefit auction, supporting Face to Face which works to end HIV in Sonoma County while supporting those living with HIV. It is Sonoma County’s longest running art auction that is always filled with beautiful local art. This is a treasured work that I’m offering this year. It is part of the beginning of my citizenship art work.
MONICA BRYANT – Citizenship Test
Since 2012 I have been volunteering helping immigrants study for the US Citizenship Test. I work with Luigi Fabiano who arranged with Catholic Charities to help the students whose English was too weak to keep up with the pace of the course Catholic Charities offers. We offer individual help and review and have seen our clients pass the test! It is an immediate and tangible goal to become a citizen. It has been a first step to further education, a passport and sometimes new work.
Last October, when I was in Art Trails Open Studios, I was inspired to paint the American Flag and glue the 100 questions on a large paper as an installation piece. I posted the answers to the questions near by. It worked as I expected. People enjoyed the challenge to answer the questions e.g.:
- What are the two longest rivers in the United States?
- If the President and Vice President can no longer serve who becomes President?
- Name two United States wars in the 19th
- Name a US Territory.
- What is the economic system of the United States?
- What is freedom of religion?
In August, 2016, I will be exhibiting my Citizenship Test art work in addition to new works that are related to this subject, at the City Council Chambers in Santa Rosa. My patriotism includes sorrow for the Trail of Tears with Native Americans, sorrow for slavery, sorrow for the suffering from war. I’m also proud of so many from American History. I was married on Flag Day and feel our country and its symbols belong to all of us not one party or another. Each new citizen’s energy and talent contributes to the hope and promise of our country.
Monica Bryant, American Books, 2015, Watercolor
MONICA BRYANT – Watercolor
My mother Pat Potucek (1925-2011) was an award winning professional artist in Kansas. She painted murals throughout the state and painted many portraits, landscapes and still lifes. Watercolor was a medium that I started using with her from a young age. She taught me to mix and apply pigments by mixing the colors on the palette and then brushing it onto the paper. She said and I still believe, good paper is more important than the paint you use.
At the University of Hawaii in a Materials and Techniques class I took in my twenties, I learned to allow mixing of colors on the paper with layers of glazes so that there was an optical mixing of colors. After moving my studio to 33arts I discovered that it works best to keep painting in watercolor at my home studio and to use the 33arts studio for my acrylics and mixed-media works. This allows me to work slowly on the watercolors at any time of day.
In 2015, I started painting still lifes of books in watercolor. I enjoy the simple perspective of the boxy shapes and the titles and cover designs. Occasionally I paint open books.
Like most of us I use a camera to take pictures of family and friends and scenic landscapes. I also slow down and draw or paint on site. Painting and drawing is a way to “see” that truly focuses your attention. I remember what I draw or paint, whereas some snapshots are quickly forgotten. I also draw on my tablet and there is a similarity of focus when drawing that way. Creating is a way of life and it is all good.
In October 2015, Monica Bryant joined Art Trails and opened her new studio to the public. She is doing it again with Art at the Source! Please visit her studio this June to see new works in watercolor and mixed media!
Date & Time:
June 4-5 & June 11-12, 2016
Studio & Gallery Location:
3480 Finley Avenue, Building 33 Santa Rosa, CA
Monica Bryant – Glass Slipper Statement
I still love fairy tales. I particularly like the new Disney version of Cinderella. To me it is an improvement of the 50’s version because Cinderella and the Prince are caretakers of the kingdom. It is not simply a ‘happily ever after’ tale.
The image, Glass Slipper Between Earth and Sky, came to me in a dream and I just had to make it. It speaks to the truth of natural limits in life. I am a wife, mother and grandmother. There is pleasure and pain in this role and natural limits of our life spans. Everyone needs and deserves family and friends that root and care for them. Cooking, laundry and gardening are not just chores but pleasures that men, women and children share.
No one should be limited in the workplace or anywhere because of gender. Each one of us deserves the liberty to ‘go for it’ and ‘dream big’. As a member of the Beauty Project, I hope our work makes a difference for generations to come. Art can make our hearts and minds grow. Art can encourage acceptance of complexity. It will be a great day when, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, we are judged by “the content of our character” rather than the color of our skin, gender, age or any prejudice.
Glass Slipper to Glass Ceiling
Once upon a time, little girls were told fairy tales about beautiful young women who languished in dungeons or towers. Evil stepmothers, wicked queens, poverty, toil, and hopelessness characterized their lives. Sooner or later, through an unlikely encounter with a handsome prince, their luck changes. Ultimately the prince will come to rescue the maiden from her captor and/or break the evil spell, carrying her off to live happily ever after.
While these tales were taken, one hopes, with a grain of salt, children of the last millennium—particularly American women of the Baby Boomer generation—were still fed a diet of fantasy in the guise that once they attained a certain age their lives of personal ambition and struggles would come to an end, the happy ending for Boomers consisting ideally of marriage, family, and a house with two cars in the suburbs.
A vast array of social changes swept the nation in the 1960s and 70s. The second generation of feminists, following on the advances made by early 20th century suffragettes, launched the Women’s Liberation movement. Also, the invention of the birth control pill changed the lives of women forever, enabling them to postpone the onset of motherhood until a much later age…or to avoid that role altogether. Women were continuing their educations, earning graduate degrees in unprecedented numbers, and their ranks swelling the work force. If all seemed to be headed to a happy ending for these liberated women, this story here takes an ugly twist.
The gears of the women’s movement were stripped, the common misconception being that women had already “been given” too much. Lulled into a misguided sense of complacency, that the fight had been won, new generations of women—the Gen Xers, and the Millennials—turned their backs on feminism. Because the new forms of sexism are less obvious does not, unfortunately, make them less prevalent. Girls and women proceed blithely in their educations and careers until one day it hits them, as they are overlooked for opportunities and promotions, watching their male colleagues with similar skills and credentials rise easily in the higher ranks of academia and industry. They instead bump their heads against the subliminal prejudice that still serves to keep women in their place—subservient.
If the myth of a life of ease, the “glass slipper” of a sheltered life of domesticity, has been shattered, in its place we have the reality of women expected to compete on an uneven playing field, where deep-seated societal assumptions and prejudices about what women can or should do keep most safely restricted by the “glass ceiling” of lowered expectations, and opportunities. Women are routinely expected to work harder than their male colleagues in order to prove their worth, and in certain fields, such as the tech industry, a poisonous culture of male superiority is, sadly, still the norm.
Coming to focus on the trajectory of this exhibition, a bit of history. In 1993, artist Kerry Vander Meer founded an artist’s group called The Beauty Project, inspired by Naomi Wolf’s eye-opening The Beauty Myth (1990), which focuses on the issue of how a woman’s success is often closely linked to her physical appearance. Our work at the time explored themes of being held to unreasonable expectations of appearing perpetually youthful and attractive. (For more information on The Beauty Project, please refer to my article in the current issue of WEAD Magazine #8 Feminism Now http://weadartists.org/the-beauty-project, also visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheBeautyProjectArchive/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel.)
After several shows, most notably our ambitious “Measuring Up” exhibition at Richmond Art Center in 1994, the group’s energy began to dissipate. Although we drifted apart, perhaps shifting to other concerns in our artwork, many of us have stayed connected. When the 20th anniversary of our group arrived, we commemorated it by gathering together, and also discussing plans for an anniversary show.
With a renewed focus on feminist issues, “Glass Slipper to Glass Ceiling” reunites eleven artists from the core group of The Beauty Project. With a broader emphasis on how women’s lives are affected by issues of empowerment, artists Monica Bryant, Emily Duffy, Nancy Mizuno Elliott, Gigi Janchang, Joanna Katz, Ines Kramer, Liz Maxwell, Charlie Milgrim, Barbara Morris, Kerry Vander Meer, and Lorraine Weglarz address issues ranging from personal or political histories of identity as defined by gender and race, ongoing issues of self-esteem related to appearance, weight, or aging, reflections on the double-edged joys and sorrows of motherhood, inequity in terms of opportunities and income for female artists and other professionals, meditations on mortality, and the thorny question of what it means to embrace feminism in the 21st century.
We remain outraged by the global subjugation of women, by the horrific abuses perpetrated against women and girls who continue to be treated as less than fully human, and by the continuing specter of human trafficking. We see the frightening assaults on human rights here in the United States, including the conservative backlash against women’s reproductive rights. And the continuing nightmare of domestic violence is an issue that transcends barriers of geography, race, and class. All are signs that the war is not over, the fight has not been won. The issue is a complex one, and solutions will certainly not be easy, but this ongoing call to eliminate gender bias is a sound that needs to be amplified, rather than silenced.
Twenty years ago I exhibited with a group of women artists called “The Beauty Project”. We are having a reunion exhibit considering how we feel about feminism, and our goals now, in 2016. The title of the show is Glass Slipper to Glass Ceiling. The reception is Thursday March 10th, from 5:30-7:30. Put it on your calendar!