Monica Rickler Marks
Artist and Owner of Blue Carnation Studio
Monica Marks is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Los Angeles. She earned her BA in Art from California State University, Northridge, and her MA in Marital and Family Therapy at Loyola Marymount University with a specialization in Clinical Art Therapy. Monica’s training and experience in the mental health field influences her work and she believes strongly in the power of expressive arts to promote emotional growth and healing.
In 2021 Monica had her first solo exhibition, What We Hide: An Exploration Hidden Disabilities and Identity, through Shoebox Projects online, using her studio as the physical space for in-person visits. Monica’s work has been exhibited in numerous group exhibitions, including Lancaster Museum of Art and History, Torrance Art Museum, and the Bristol Art Museum in Rhode Island. Her work was selected for the 2021 Los Angeles Open and the 2022 Made in the USA at TAG gallery. Monica is also a gallery artist at Bird Dog Arts in Tejon Ranch, CA. Monica is collected nationally.
My artwork shines a light on identities, disabilities, differences and emotions that are often kept hidden from the public. Through art I explore biases and harmful social norms that are rooted in misogyny, ableism, racism, body-shaming, and anti-Semitism. An important focus of my art is to erase the stigma of mental illness and to normalize asking for help. My background as an Art Therapist, as well as my own struggles with depression, anxiety, and accepting my own neurodiversity, has helped to shape my art practice through the years, and I continue to incorporate what I learn and experience in my daily life into my art.
As a mixed media artist, I use sculpted materials, paint, ephemera and found objects. The theme of the piece dictates the materials, often subconsciously. Sometimes I find myself working primarily in two-dimensional collage, cutting out words and images from old issue of LIFE magazine; other times I am creating an assemblage of rusty objects and wood. Recently I have begun to work on larger surfaces, exploring new combinations of textures, colors, and composition. I’m always excited to try something new and my work continues to evolve each year.
One of my earliest influences on my own art was when I saw Edward Kienholz’ “Back Seat Dodge '38” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I was impacted by his use of carefully placed, often rough objects, to create an immersive art experience that drew me inside the piece. Tracey Emin integrated autobiographical themes of struggle and emotional trauma into her work, such as with, “My Bed,” an installation piece that documented her four days of depression and drinking in bed.
My overall visual influence, starting with my earliest pieces in the late 2000’s, was the mixed media, shadow box work of Joseph Cornell. His utilization of “cast off and discarded artifacts” informed my process in incorporating found objects into my work. His focus on layout and design, strongly influenced by surrealists, also inspires how I structure each piece I create.
For my solo show, “What We Hide: An Exploration of Hidden Disability and Identity,” I created, “The Mask Series,” a sequence of 24” square canvases using handmade plaster masks to explore inner and outer personas. My goal with this very personal exhibition was to expose my own emotional experiences so that visitors would feel heard, seen, and understood when relating to their own underlying (i.e., hidden) challenges concretized before them.
Whether the content of my art is aiming to point out gender inequality, white privilege, demonstrating how anxiety feels, or working to evoke a hidden feeling or memory, my overarching intent is always to create art that reaches people who have felt isolated or feel pressured to pass as someone other than they genuinely are and let them know they are not alone.