Chilean artist Monica Bengoa and her detail oriented artwork had me greatly intrigued as soon as I saw it, due to its immense size and the range of techniques that she employs. One sunny afternoon, she invited me to her workshop for an interview. The grand scale of her art suggests a large working space but her studio is quaint. As I take a look around, we begin to talk and she offers me a chair.
photo by: Mallory Pillard
Monica works mainly with felt, but photography is the base of her passion. “My materials have changed, but my interest in photography has not", she says. In addition to felt, she has worked with film in the traditional way, and also with embroidery. Monica takes former art forms, literature, photographs in books, and turns them into her own magnificent pieces. In this way, her art could be considered meta-art, or art about art; specifically in her case, murals centered around photography.
Monica's murals are precise, hand cut and colorful. Monica's perspective on her own style? "I'm not afraid to make mistakes," she says. This daring, dauntless attitude is present throughout her work and arouses further interest in her artistic process.
She proceeds to describe a mural that she did once with thistles. Yes, thistles. Each one was dyed by hand and then carefully placed in the final work. This piece took lots of time and patience. She explains, “Depending on which way you touch them, they can bite. They aren’t always smooth”. The final result, she says, looks like photograph pixels.
photo by: Mallory Pillard
Mónica graduated as a Bachelor of Fine Art (Printmaking) from Universidad Católica de Chile. Her works have been featured internationally in the likes of New York, Italy, Brazil, Bolivia, and Spain. In addition to being an artist full time she is a docent of arts at Universidad Catolica, and director of Galeria Macchina. Monica has accomplished a great deal, and when I mention this to her, she humbly replies, “Not so much…my goal is always to be learning, and always be researching.”
The MAVI (Mueso de Artes Visuales) recently hosted Monica’s latest works, 'Einige Beobachtungen über Insekten und Wildblumen o Algunas consideraciones sobre los insectos y las flores silvestres.' The elaborate title is fitting to her ornate murals; the German phrases actually form part of the murals themselves. Her interest in biology is also present in the insects and flowers that she immortalizes in felt. The murals were the most interesting when viewed up close, and then from far away; the contrast gives the illusion that you are looking at two different works entirely.
photo by: Nelson Hernández
“Inspiration is not some magic moment that a muse gives you,” she says, “To be an artist is to be always alert, and always connected to a sense of curiosity.” Monica's personality gives a sense of being motivated, insightful, and diligent and her work exemplifies these characteristics.
If Monica wasn’t an artist what would she do? Be a writer or an entomologist; impressively, however, Monica has managed to realize these dreams through her artwork. When you see her murals, you will understand why.
You can check out more of Monica's artwork on her website: