My prints on paper and fabric toy with the reality of the past, the future, the tension between the two, and how life, memory, and health are capable of leaving us suddenly.
The driving force behind my work stems from grappling with chronic and progressive illnesses. Like other disabled individuals, I am forced to be constantly reminded of grief, between the loss of life once lived and in death, as well as dealing with a body that has the cards stacked against itself. My work often focuses on pain, ableism, mystery and chronic illnesses, deep friendships, and women. While using vintage dresses or photographs of women, I create “self-portraits” using them as surrogates in place of myself. When I cannot do so, my work is a voice for myself against the rhetoric of those disallowing of disabilities.
Dark, moody, ethereal figures, many intertwined with overgrown flowers and gold leaf, compose much of my prints. I often use Victorian era concepts of grief, mourning, and flower symbolism. The duality of flowers, how they are used as symbols of sympathy yet in celebration of life, is evident in my cyanotypes. After the loss of my friend, I found myself consistently grieving, while simultaneously questioning life after death. I depict my thoughts on our Great Beyond: our loved ones waiting for us, surrounded by the flowers we leave behind for them.
Monica Chulewicz is a Polish-American artist who was born and raised in New York. She is a printmaker and fiber artist who uses found, vintage material. Her themes of mortality, fragility, and disability are heavily based off of her experiences living with several progressive and chronic illnesses. She received the Grand Prize Emerging Young Artist Award from the Kennedy Center in 2016, a Wynn Newhouse Award in 2017, grants from the IACA and Reimagine End of Life New York City, and more. She has earned a BFA in Art with minors in Art History and Psychology from Adelphi University, and was awarded The Peter Paone Award for Excellence in Works on Paper in 2013. She frequently shows in New York, as well as throughout the country. She continues to live and work in New York.