An online Exhibit by Monica Lacey ~ Part 1

self-portrait, digital photograph, 2011
© monica lacey 2009-2013 all rights reserved 
Monica Lacey  is a full time visual artist living in Charlottetown. She creates commercial and conceptual work representing a variety of intriguing two and three-dimensional media.

In 2011, she graduated from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design where she was awarded the country’s largest national scholarship for college study—the W. Garfield Weston Award—as well as the  Governor General's Medal. More recently, she was the first artist from PEI to ever participate in a residency at the living museum Elsewhere in Greensboro, North Carolina. When she is not creating visual works, she co-manages a dance collective with her husband and is involved with a number of community arts organizations.

Despite her prolific creativity, palpable talent and copious accomplishments, Lacey, humbly, still considers herself an “emergent artist”. In this online exhibit, she tells her story through her works and words.

 view through the crosses (Montmartre, 
Paris), digital photograph, 2011
© monica lacey 2009-2013 all rights reserved 

I'm originally from Prince Edward Island - the rural community of Bonshaw, to be precise.  My father is from Italy so I grew up traveling quite a bit to visit my family there.  I spent years living other places:  Vancouver, Montreal, Nelson (BC), Georgia (USA), Halifax…I spent a winter living in Rome...I moved back to PEI in 2011 when I graduated because I just couldn't wait to get back to the Atlantic ocean.  Luckily my husband (who is from Winnipeg) likes it out here too!

 the way you remember it part 1,  encaustic 
and mixed media, 2012
© monica lacey 2009-2013 all rights reserved 

I think I've always been making art. My grandfather was a painter, another uncle is a well-known painter, and my aunt is a sculptor and art professor, so maybe it's in my blood.  My sister and I were homeschooled by my mother until Junior High, and we were always strongly encouraged to draw, paint, make crafts...  

I thought about going to art school for years, but I always talked myself out of it, worried it was too impractical.  In 2007 I was living in Montreal and was part of a group who were going through the book The Artist's Way together.  I guess you could say it was a creativity support group - it gave me the courage and validation I needed to finally choose a school and go for it.  

 overdue, encaustic, mixed 4, 2013
© monica lacey 2009-2013 all rights reserved 

It took me years, but I finally realized that all I wanted to do with my time was make art and that in order to do that in a sustainable way, and to be able to produce the quality of work I wanted to produce, I needed to learn some technique and get some feedback, which was exactly what I got from school.

 studio shot
© monica lacey 2009-2013 all rights reserved 

I used to express myself mainly through writing.  I published a collection of poetry in 2004 and doing that was so cathartic that I found I didn't really need/want to write anymore for years afterward.  That's when I really turned my energy toward visual art, and it's been focused there ever since.  Within my visual art practice I work with a variety of media, from photography to encaustic painting to site-specific installation, so that generally satisfies my desire for variety.  When I need a break from visual art and to get out of my own head, I play music (guitar and piano).

remember summer, merino fleece, silk organza, 
candle, hand felted and silkscreened, 2010
© monica lacey 2009-2013 all rights reserved 

I have a studio in my home, and plan to build a larger studio building in my yard.  Charlottetown doesn't have downtown studio space for some reason unlike other cities where it's common, so most of the working artists I know here work out of their home or a building on their own property.  My studio hours are all over the place right now - I'm actually trying to enforce a more regular routine on myself so that I actually have days off.  It's tricky especially in summer when it's hot, so I usually wind up working at night once it cools off in my studio.

 first snow (varied edition), photo-etching 
on BFK Rives paper with chine colle, 2011
© monica lacey 2009-2013 all rights reserved 

When I need inspiration, I look at the work of other artists I admire, I look through my own archives and materials, I read short fiction (currently a collection by the brilliant George Saunders), go for a run, listen to music, get out into the woods, whatever it takes - although usually, what it takes is just showing up in the studio and starting!  I also have a daily yoga and meditation practice that I do every morning to clear the cobwebs. 

untitled 4, abandoned series, digital photograph, 2010 
© monica lacey 2009-2013 all rights reserved 

 daffodils, watercolour on hot press paper, 2013
© monica lacey 2009-2013 all rights reserved

I have a few themes from which I draw continual inspiration and they really inform the style of my work:  abandonment, decay & preservation, plants & flowers, memory & nostalgia.  In terms of the aesthetic, it depends on which media I'm working in. For example, my watercolour botanicals tend to be quite light and delicate, whereas my photography and sculptural works tend toward intimate and dark, even disturbing at times.  Maybe the contrast is because I'm a Gemini?

 sento la mancanza (I miss), gum bichromate and cyanotype print
from digital negative on stonehenge paper 
© monica lacey 2009-2013 all rights reserved

In 2010, I was one of 25 scholars across Canada to be awarded the W. Garfield Weston Award - the largest national scholarship for college study.  The criteria are passion for and excellence in one's field, service to one's community, and being curious, courageous, and willing to try new things.  The selection process was rigorous and involved a full day of panel and individual interviews.  

...being selected for the award was an honour that was greatly augmented by having met many of the other incredibly wonderful applicants during the interview day.  It meant - and still means - a great deal to me to be recognized on a national level like that, especially while I was still in school.  And for things/qualities that are really important to me!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Monica Lacey’s visual and textual tale.

In the mean time, visit:

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