This Georgia painter's vibrant bodyscapes teach us about self-care, wholeness and the sacred geometry of a woman
Have you ever stopped moving fast and found yourself gently carried forward instead? Monica Kim Garza knows. From the full-bodied figures Her work depicts to a portfolio that encompasses paintings, drawings, ceramics and mixed-media pieces, She reminds us of abundance.
The result is a tangible testament to a life unconstrained by borderlines. Her Mexican, Native American and Korean background and travels to Asia, Africa and South America lend Her paintings an “anywhere, but here” quality that is all at once nuanced and relatable.
The bodies depicted in Her work are brown yet ethnically ambiguous, the colours prismatic and earthy. Skin tones meet shades of sunset, blending transnational identities and lifetimes and placing them amidst the landscapes within which they are so often experienced.
But for now, Monica is home. A year ago, Monica moved back to Her southern U.S. hometown from Brooklyn.
“I feel a lot better in Georgia because I have so much more time for myself,” says Monica. “In New York I had a day job and was doing my art and working full-time, and I had a lot of anxiety from being so busy and trying to manage all this stuff. I remember I was sitting there and was praying to God being like, ‘I really need something to perk me up’. And then I opened my email and there was something from 5Boro.”
The universe provided and the result was a collaboration with the NYC-based skate brand, producing a line of skateboard decks featuring Her signature babes in all their blessed corpulence.
She has since taken the time to create in a space that may be far-removed geographically from Her contemporaries, but intrinsically connected to them through the internet.
“My biggest fan support is in Europe, New York, and California . . . I think here in Georgia the art scene is [dominated by] very traditional art, or ‘safe’ art, and the other one would be super-rap culture art, and a lot of people do like my art, but that’s as far as it goes.
“[The internet] is how I’ve been able to do shows in Germany or Switzerland and New York, which is fine for me. Honestly if there was no internet, I would be forced to stay in New York.”
Her connectivity allows Her to circumvent the more banal realities of being an artist in a major city, as well as honor Her own energy resources.
“I’m an introvert,” She shares. “I can talk to people whenever, but I hate being fake and I hate having to network when I actually don’t want to. I would probably be way ahead if I was in an art community and networking, but it feels nice to know that opportunity isn’t there for me here. I guess I really like this feeling of detachment."
Monica inspires us. It’s not about the acquisition and accumulation of as many shiny stones as we can fit in our palms, but fullness. Wholeness. Balance. If you’ve made it this far, treat yourself to that kind of long, deep intake of oxygen that fills the belly and quiets the mind. And take care of yourself first — your art will be okay.