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Artist to explore the fragility of memory in exhibition

Lauren Smith

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Monika Meler, studio shot

Monika Meler immigrated from Brodnica, Poland before earning her B.F.A, M.A., and M.F.A. from three separate American universities. She has held solo exhibits in Virginia, Kansas City and even Ireland.

Her experiences as a Polish immigrant play a heavy role in the influence behind her art in “Fragile Structures,” the upcoming exhibit at 1078 Gallery that features the transient and metamorphic nature of memory.

“As an immigrant, I find that memory and impermanence are topics that I constantly circle,” said Meler. “My work often explores how impermanent memory is – how when we remember something, we are actually remembering our last memory of the thing, place, person and not the actual thing itself. This leads me to question the stability and actuality of memory.”

A piece in the exhibition titled “Marina City #3” manifests this idea. It references the buildings of Chicago, the city to which she immigrated and the antithetic nature of these buildings’ construction — how such magnificently large structures are still fragile enough to sway in the wind.

“The contradiction of something so seemingly strong gently swaying is really interesting and was very much an influence for many works in ‘Fragile Structures,'” states Meler.

"The Cathedral and The Tent", relief print and monotype

This idea mirrors her view of memory and is interwoven through many works in the exhibition. Even her compositional techniques showcase this — “Marina City #3” is made of Japanese paper that appears fragile and breakable, despite actually being quite strong.

Also working as a professor of art at University of the Pacific, Meler encourages students to simply create — free of convention and restraint. She attributes her success to this philosophy, which she first discovered in a letter written from artist Sol Lewitt to sculptor Eva Hesse.

“You must make, every day, in every situation,” urges Meler. “This is the only thing that has sustained my practice. I actually put no pressure on myself to make art that is ‘good,’ whatever that means. The only pressure is to just make.”

"Through the Façade #2", paper-cut

Performance Details

  • Date: Feb. 5 – March 7 (Reception: Feb. 5, 5-7 p.m.)
  • Location: 1078 Gallery
  • Price: Free

Lauren Smith can be reached at [email protected] or @reginechassagne on Twitter.

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Artist to explore the fragility of memory in exhibition