Monica Curiel is a mixed media artist and a Dallas native-born to immigrants from western Mexico. As a child, she spent the summers in Mexico visiting her family. Curiel’s experience as a first-generation Mexican-American is at the core of her work. She uses non-traditional materials, such as grouting tools, plaster, wood stain, and house paints. These construction materials, commonly used by the Latino labor force, are intentionally manipulated to create pieces that draw Curiel back to her cultural roots. As an American born individual, she struggled to toggle her identity as both an American and Mexican woman. This history is evident when examining her work.
Curiel’s art aims to capture experiences in powerful abstract forms that are open to individual sense-making and interpretation. It has been especially important for her during the current time of isolation to create an environment in which she feels at peace. Having grown up with immigrant parents, she deems it essential that her work celebrates the Latino community. In doing so, she sustains a connection to the Latino labor force, which both of her parents contribute to, and a labor force she grew up participating in. Her mother, a housemaid, would take her and her sisters to work, to clean homes. She would also accompany her father, a landscaper, to mow lawns in the Texas heat.
Her mixed media art represents experiences and identities in ways that are not only salient for the contemporary moment in history we’re all experiencing via the coronavirus pandemic, racial protests, and politics, but it will continue to speak to people from all walks of life who are working to make sense of this period in our collective and individual lives.
As a young adult, she was diagnosed with cancer in her freshman and sophomore years of college. Upon recovering her health, she transferred from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles to continue her studies at Columbia College in Chicago and the University of Kansas in Lawrence. She was a Gilman scholar for her studies at Florence University of the Arts in Italy where she studied Italian culture and interior architecture. Her travels abroad have led her to develop a deep fervor to collaborate creatively through diversity.
Her spirit drives her to make her art available to all audiences, and she looks to display works that establish ease and profound movement through texture. She plans to continue to travel and be a part of the global society that surrounds her by further examining topics of belonging, identity, and culture throughout her newest works.