On February 19 in her show ‘Yours, Mine, and Ours,’ Monika Meler used recycled paper, relief printing, and screenprinting techniques to create combinations of shapes and images in a beautiful and intricate exhibition at the Fresh As Fruit gallery, created by Stetson arts department professors Katie Baczeski and Madison Creech. A modge podge of Meler’s past collections and a collaboration with student-collected recycled paper and scraps from Stetson’s Environmental Land Art class, the exhibit was a detailed representation of her past, present, and future.
Monika Meler grew up in Poland, moving to Chicago when she was 10, and her childhood as well as her time in Chicago both majorly influenced her art, in general as well as in the show. Later, she lived in California, and this time influenced the way she makes her art, factoring in the environmental effects of artistic expression: “[T]he area you live in somehow affects the content of your work and how you choose to make work”. While living California in the middle of a drought and wildfires, Meler became very cognisant of just how much water is really involved in the processes of screen printing, relief printing, and paper making. She began to use all recycled paper in her work, and it became the basis for her more recent work. She looks to find moments where recycling and transforming happens in her work, and the installation of her pieces is as much part of the transformation process as anything else.
For Meler, every cut of paper has a purpose. A lot of the lines and shapes in her work are reminiscent of the skylines and architecture of the city, reminiscent of her time in Chicago and her time finishing her Masters in Fine Arts in Rome. “I would always kind of simplify or abstract them in the process. So a lot of that kind of very tight, repetitive geometric cutting was almost always based on architecture, especially modernist architecture.” The beautiful nature of California inspires Monika’s work as well, forming many of the hills and valleys of lace-like paper designs in her show.
This show was also special in that student-created scraps and designs in paper were included in the array of paper. Tendrils of newspaper, magazines, old study guides, and more, cut by students of the Environmental Land Art class, were delicately enmeshed within the layers of art. Meler found this aspect particularly rewarding “I’m really interested in how essentially this work can grow…and really become this idea of, you know, being ours. So I think that’s the real kind of special thing about this for me.” She plans on continuing this collaboration, and has even kept the leftover paper for future projects.
To see more of her work, visit monika meler.viewbook.com!