Española artist breaks from tradition

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Exhibit: Monica Duran is not your typical Northern New Mexican artist

By Jennifer Garcia

Most artists will say that sharing their talent with others is what drives them to create art. Española resident and artist Monica Duran is no different. She feeds her creative need by making contemporary art pieces, using mixed media — and for the second time, she will share her artwork with the public in a show.
 This time, it will be on exhibit at the Bond House Museum in Española. The show opens with a reception from 6-9 p.m. Friday and will be on display through Jan. 3.
Despite the fact that she enjoys making art, she’s not able to devote as much time as she’d like to create her pieces because she’s battling terminal cancer. The proceeds from selling her art will go toward her cancer foundation. She is in need of surgery that could save her life.
“I decided to show it (my art) because I felt in my spirit that it was time. I wanted other women to read my story and not give in to the illness,” Duran said. “I know first-hand that this can either make you or break you and I choose to fight to make it. Art is my passion and I love to create wonderful and beautiful things.”
Unlike some, she does not come from an artistic family. Creating art seems to be her own quality. However, she is no stranger to the creative process. She has a degree in architecture and interior design and before Duran was sidelined by her illness, she worked in that field for 15 years.
“Due to my illness, I was no longer able to maintain a full-time job. I started creating art back in 2006, when I was diagnosed with cancer,” she said. “I have always been artistic my whole life. Art has become my lifestyle.”
Since beginning her life as an artist, Duran has only recently begun to show her work. She participated in this year’s Española Valley Arts Festival, but is eager for the Bond House show and what the future holds.
“Right now, this is a one-person show — just me. My daughter is finishing up one more year in fashion design school, so once she is done, we will be showing our work together,” Duran said. “As of now, this show is just my work.”
Her daughter, Destini also serves as Duran’s manager.
Duran said she has spent the last five months preparing for this show and is excited to see how the public will react to her art. She said that she wanted to first show her work in the town in which she grew up, before she showed anywhere else.
“I have been working really hard designing everything from the frames to my art, itself. I am a perfectionist when it comes to my art, so I want everything to be perfect,” Duran said.
Her art pieces are not what one might expect from a Northern New Mexican artist. Instead of creating traditional Spanish or Native American art, she crafts diverse pieces like “A Touch of Monroe,” featuring various depictions of Monroe.
“Marilyn Monroe is an icon, but that’s not what captures me about her. Marilyn was broken inside. Why? We don’t know. I don’t work of gossip. When I see her, I do see light, beauty of an innocent woman that early in life was not completed,” Duran said of her creation.
“I don’t have a drug or alcohol problem, but I have brokenness that no one knows about but me … I humbly say that you can have all the money in the world, but (if) you’re not completed, it’s all void.”
Another of Duran’s pieces, “Look Into My Eyes,” features what appear to be magazine clippings of various women’s eyes and portions of their faces.
Duran said this particular piece was inspired by “observing questions, but much more answers. I could read the eyes before the answer,” she said. “Eyes are the window to the soul. Just like my eyes are the window to my art. You feel it within, then beautiful work is made and your soul is generated.”
If she had it her way, she’d devote more time to her craft, but because of her illness, preparing for the show has been difficult for Duran.
“For days, sometimes weeks at a time, I am sick where I can’t work,” she said. “I get very sad because creating art is my passion and what I look forward to.”
Even though she has faced some setbacks, Duran said she takes solace in the fact that she is still able to prepare for the show despite her illness.
“I hope other women will be inspired and follow their dreams through any obstacles that come their way, how I am fulfilling mine,” she said.
Her love for the craft is what keeps her going. She said she is inspired to make art because she has a love for it.
“When I see the canvas finished and completed, I get such an excitement to see that it is completed,” she said. “Every piece makes me want to create more and more.”
In addition to her mixed-media pieces, Duran is unveiling a new artistic venture at her opening reception.
“I am also coming out with a line of jewelry the night of the show. I use my artwork to influence my jewelry. It is very different and different is what I am looking for,” she said. “It is going to be big and beautiful … Jewels by Monista.”
For more information about Duran or to see some of her artwork, visit monistaarts.com.