A love of textile design has taken artist Monica Rezman around the world. She studied in Chicago and again in San Miguel Allende, travelled to the pueblas in Chiapas and Guatemala to weave with the native women, worked in an atelier in Italy, and studied the hair factory in India. I caught up with her in Merida where she is currently living and making art.
How long have you been a textile artist?
I’ve always been fascinated with textiles but I originally studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 1970s. I didn’t have great painting teachers but I did, however, have a fantastic textile teacher, so I decided to shift my whole career and become a textile artist.
Where did that career take you?
I spent some time in New York and decided the huge commercial textile business was not for me, so I moved back to Chicago and had my own clothing and textile company for years.
When did you make the leap to fine artist?
It happened gradually. I moved to Italy in my early 30s and studied in a traditional atelier. It was very rigorous and yet I loved it. Serendipity led me to an atelier back in Chicago and after 4 years there, I started painting and drawing again. My first pieces were large-scale charcoal drawings of hair, which were very textural and fibre-like. I also had a photography exhibition based on images I took of my daughter and finally, I took my work off the walls and created paper sculptures for a show in Chicago.
What do you want people to experience when they look at your work?
When I did my drawings of hair, the gallery told me some people were repulsed. (laughs). I was shocked and mortified, but at least it told me I was making work that was interesting enough to stimulate a response! That’s all I can hope for as an artist.
What inspires you?
I get sparked by so many things, but sometimes I find it’s the spaces in between creating where I get my inspiration.
What do you find challenging working as an artist here in Merida?
At first I panicked because I couldn’t find what I’m used to using, and then I got creative. Limitation is the best thing for me and it’s often when I make my best work.
Is there one artist you admire?
Gerhard Richter. I have always connected to his work—it’s very personal. I love that he can flow effortlessly from realism to abstraction.
What do you love most about being an artist?
Freedom to do what I want to do…the only restrictions I have, I put on myself. It’s challenging to make a living as an artist but I’ve learned to live as an artist, and that’s the key.