Natural Women by Monica Kim Garza

Monica Kim Garza paints from her heart- with unbounded passion- and offers her work to be viewed in any which way you like. The potential polarizing nature of nude women of color is mitigated by her use of bright colors, her use of nature as a central theme throughout, and her disinterest in anything but positive energy. Politicizing her images or aiming to make any specific profound statement doesn’t keep her up at night, while the jovial atmosphere comes from a dedication to painting her world as genuinely and lightheartedly as possible. Her work isย authentic, and that playful feeling translates past the confines of her canvasses. Garza takes on a style completely her own over the predominantly male artists that have come before her; reclaiming and uplifting these powerful female bodies. Her work is filled with a reverence for the figures; changing a narrative that is so often steeped in misogyny or exploitation. The women are casual, enjoying themselves, unaware or uncaring that they might be a subject of scrutiny, and reveling in their natural form.

Courtesy of the artist.

Where are you from originally and when did art first enter your life?

I was born in Alamogordo, New Mexico. But I grew up in rural Georgia since the age of 5. I was intrinsically drawn to art as a child, always drawing and coloring. I taught myself how to draw by copying photos and doing still lifes in my bedroom. It was a passion that I never abandoned.

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You have lived all over the US. What made you decide to move back to your home state of Georgia?

Growing up, I felt very out of place for many reasons, and that need to see the world inspired me to move. When I moved, I loved it, but I felt like my roots were still this Southern person. After living in various places for ten years, I decided it was time to go back. I wanted to be able to see my family and be in this humid air with trees all over. It’s easier for my to relax here in this moment. Georgia will always be home in my heart.

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How would you describe a perfect day in the studio?

I like to have the doors open, enjoying the sun and fresh air. Any day that is sunny is a perfect day.

What is your process like from beginning to end?

Sometimes I make quick drawings, but normally I start with an image in mind and paint it onto the canvas. Then, I make the changes I see fit. Sometimes the image doesn’t work out and I just paint over it. It depends, but it’s all about the process and how it results in the end image that speaks how I want it to.

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Do you find that you create such a strong connection with your works it is sometimes difficult to let them go, or perhaps too easy because you have spent so much time with them already?

I create work to share them so in the end it never feels hard to let them go. The connection will always be there. I miss seeing some pieces, but you move on.

How do you incorporate nature into your everyday routine and what is one thing you do everyday that truly relaxes you?

I go outside everyday. When it rains, it kills me not to take a walk. Walking and sunshine give me great pleasure. Seeing plants and mother nature give me joy.

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Have you always painted in your current style?

It’s always been the same foundation but it’s evolved, much like the world and humans do. Same core, but changing with the world and everything around it.

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From where do you draw inspiration?

Mostly from my life, my friends, and things that interest me. I think people can draw what they want from that, and it’s nice to be able to have a voice in that way.

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What source material do you base your work off of?

I tend to think of moments or something I feel I want to say, and an image comes with that. I can see it in my mind, and I go from there.

If you could go back 10 years, what would you tell your former self?

Be confident. Speak up for yourself.

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At the end of every interview, we like to ask the artist to recommend a friend whose work you love for us to interview next. Who would you suggest?

I love my dear friend Farshad Farzankia.