Andrea Moni's art struck me with a sense of power and vulnerability the first time I saw it. And I fell in love with it even more after learning the story behind it and the process.
In 2015 Andrea was seriously burned in a traumatic accident and her work then shifted towards collaboration and healing. She uses earth pigments, egg yolks and ocean water to create stunning paintings oceanside. She decided to extend her circle of healing to others and works collaboratively with other trauma victims on the beaches of California and then completes the final painting back in her studio.
Can you start by telling us a little bit about your personal history and where you grew up?
I was born in Worcester Massachusetts and moved to Southern California when I was seven. I have always just been creative. I consider myself a “gatherer”, sensitive to the environment and with a love for nature. Creating is just in my DNA.
What art training did you receive or are you self taught?
I am both trained and self-taught. Although I have a degree in Business, I have taken almost every type of art class available, including: Photography, drawing, painting, sculpting, figurative painting and sculpting and welding, however, I am always experimenting and striving to learn new things when it comes to art.
How did your time in Argentina affect your art and inspiration?
When I moved to Argentina, I left behind a photography business and my darkroom and started to paint on anything I could find, including old doors and random pieces of wood. I was inspired by the creative aesthetic of the Argentine people and that still comes out in my work.
In your art training, were you ever taught about art supplies safety - How to protect yourself and the Earth from toxic supplies and which supplies were toxic?
Frankly in art classes we were taught to use Gamsol instead of paint thinner and of course, safety gear when welding, but otherwise the topic was not brought up too much.
What types of paint and supplies did/do you primarily use and what were/are your safety precautions (if any)?
I primarily used oil paints. I love the smoothness and flow and the fact that oil paint doesn’t dry too fast so I can “sculpt” my paintings. I love to paint outdoors where I have plenty of ventilation, although I usually finish the pieces indoors. I used Gamsol and regular soap and water to clean my brushes.
Did you have concerns about safe disposal of toxic supplies?
Artists impact on environment is always forefront in my mind. I've always taken my paint waste to proper disposal facilities and recycled my Gamsol.
When did you begin transitioning to a "non-toxic studio"? How and why did this process start and what have you been doing as part of this transition?
During the recovery in the hospital from my burn accident, I came up with the idea to create art at the ocean with other trauma victims. It was fundamental to find a non-toxic solution and therefore minimize my footprint.
How do you incorporate Natural Earth Paint products into your practice?
Do you have any tips for artists who also want to de-toxify their studio?
I would just say do your home-work, don’t give up. The earth deserves it. Artists should create but materials matter. We should divert waste, not add to it.
Were there any challenges?
There are always challenges and sacrifices in life when one is committed to doing what is right, but in the long run it is a win, win situation. People love it when they understand the intention.
What made the process easier?
To be honest, the internet helps so much in researching and problem-shooting and then it is just a matter of getting to work and doing…
What have the benefits been?
I believe that my work has a unique look and style because of my commitment to environment and I hope I will not damage my health so I can keep moving forward with my purpose for years to come.
Why do you think it's important to detoxify your studio?
For my future and that of the earth, it is critical.
Which artists throughout time inspire you the most?
Mother nature and all who try to create and make a positive difference.
What is the main inspiration for your work?
Collaboration and healing and expressing positive messages in all I do.
How do you find balance and stay connected to the natural world in the typically disconnected, busy-ness of today’s world?
This is not an issue for me. I paint in nature and spend a large percent of my time travelling and appreciating it.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Free, giving, an interaction with others and the environment. The process is just as important as the product and the message.
We at Natural Earth Paint are hoping to inspire a "Slow Art Movement" and encourage artists to slow down their process and take the time to hone their craft, create their own art materials like the Old Masters, and develop a real connection with their process - allowing the inspiration to come at it's own time and taking the time needed to create it. This reminds me of your work, does this resonate with you at all?
Tell us about your upcoming shows, events, workshops and how can we see more of your art?
Recently my work was featured in the Phoenix Society Burn Support Magazine titled,
“The Art of Healing”. I will be speaking at the National Burn Convention in Anaheim in October regarding my work. I am being interviewed this month by Orange Coast Magazine, featuring my art. I am curating a show at The Orange County Center for Contemporary Art in May 2020, that will include many of my pieces as well as the photography of Yuri BoyKo. One can also visit my website at www.andreamoni.com