“I look at my hands and I see the hands of my father and my grandmother, I see a worker’s hands . . . growing up I participated in the laborious work of both my father and mother. The very techniques I was taught when helping my father grout tile now help to elevate the voices of people like him, immigrants and people of color who are left with laborious jobs in pursuit of the American dream. Each piece of art I create reminds me of that privilege and responsibility.” 

BIOGRAPHY 


Monica Curiel is a mixed media artist born to immigrants from western Mexico. In 2021, she received her Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of Kansas. During her undergraduate career she studied fashion design, interior architecture, painting and ceramics across various art and design institutions in the U.S. She was awarded the Gilman International Scholarship for her studies abroad in Italy.

Curiel’s experience as a first-generation Mexican American is at the core of her work. Pushing the boundaries of a two dimensional surface, each piece is created through a visceral process across a profound movement of texture through the use of construction materials. Curiel feels she honors the sacrifices her parents made as both immigrants and labor workers in order to create an opportunity for a better life. Each piece serves as a tool to both elevate and celebrate her heritage and dual cultures.

She works and lives in Denver.

ARTIST STATEMENT


Pushing the boundaries of a two dimensional surface, each piece is created through a visceral process across a profound movement of texture. To construct each composition a trowel is swept across plaster on a wooden panel. I was first taught grouting techniques at an early age by my father when assisting him in ‘el trabajo’, or at work. My works are rooted in my dual cultures as a Mexican American woman and aim to break a stereotype of what an individual with my background might create. Each completed work serves as a tool to both elevate and celebrate my heritage and dual cultures. 

Photographed by Michael Ash Smith 

 "As a first-generation Mexican-American artist and cancer survivor, Monica Curiel's captivatingly textural and organic abstract paintings are informed by both adversity and hope. She intentionally brings a certain level of masculinity to the canvas, a practice she describes as a means of challenging gender norms; rather than fixating on her femininity, she hopes her audience will see her work simply for what it is. She is motivated by the honor of immigrants and people of color, who often are left with laborious jobs as a result of systemic racism and xenophobia — her work is a love letter to her Mexican heritage."

 -Trudy Hall