Day 169 - Monique

Day 169 - Monique (3rd person I approached)
June 18, 2014 - The first person I approached, Ricardo, was visiting from Colombia. He was expecting a phone call from his parents, and said we’d have to end our conversation when they called. We decided it would be best not to chat today.

“That’s too bad, though. It sounds very pleasant!” he said. The second person started with the classic ‘I’m not that interesting,' which often precedes fascinating stories. However, she didn’t want her picture taken.

 

Monique was born in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC).

“I grew up in the Kitsilano area, pretty much in the same house. I have two older brothers and one older sister. I’m the youngest. There’s only five years between the oldest to youngest, so yeah, we’ve always been pretty close,” she said. I remarked that it must have been a lot of work for her mother. Monique replied,

“Back then it wasn’t so unusual for a family to have four kids. Nowadays it seems the average family is two kids.” She was popular in school.

“I had a lot of friends, and definitely enjoyed the social aspect of school. I did okay with my work. My parents placed a lot of importance on education, and I had to pass things in order to graduate. I tried playing soccer in school, but I wasn’t really that good. I was more interested in hanging out with my friends,” she said.

 

After high school, Monique went to Emily Carr College of Art & Design here in Vancouver.

“I have been drawing since I was a little kid. I used anything I could get my hands on, crayons, pencils, charcoal. My parents always encouraged me to draw. They’re European and I think most Europeans have an appreciation for art. It was something they nurtured and always encouraged,” she said.

“I liked drawing animals. I found them to be more interesting than people. I would draw usually from a photograph or picture that I had seen.” The program at Emily Carr College was four years long.

“The first two years it’s all about the foundation work. Then in the second two years, we got to play and experiment and try out different things. Going into art school I wasn’t sure what medium or element that I wanted to explore. I liked trying out various things. I became interested in silk screen printing,” said Monique.

“I moved from silk screening to etching in metal. I liked copper but zinc was more forgiving. I mean all metals are hard to work with and essentially unforgiving. I etched using a scribe or finding the right way to use chemicals to achieve the end result. Experimenting to achieve different results. I used a lot of images of animals in my metal work as well,” said Monique. When she graduated, Emily Carr students were awarded diplomas.

“It’s changed and art school actually counts in a bigger way now. You can get a degree at art school. When I graduated, I got a diploma.”

 

Four years of art school is expensive.

“When I finished college, I had some pretty big debt to carry and I needed to work to start paying my student loans. I got a job at a restaurant and learned to cook,” she said. Monique has worked at the same restaurant as a cook now for over twenty years.

“I like the people and the job. It pays the bills and I can do the other things I want to do,” she told me. In her spare time, Monique is playing with photography these days.

“I’m doing digital photography, using a camera. I don’t have a smart phone, I’m old school. I still have a land line," she said.

"I like taking pictures of all kinds of things. I don’t always have a camera with me. I only bring it with me when I’m going out to take pictures. I enjoy photographing animals of course. Animals know when their picture is being taken. They get that ‘oh you want to photograph me?’ look! They know what you’re doing,” she said with conviction.

“I keep collecting images and I don’t know exactly what I’ll do with them, but I keep taking pictures,” Monique said.

 

I asked Monique if she felt she was a good photographer.

“I’m alright, I think. That’s been my constant struggle. Allowing myself to accept and acknowledge that I’m a good artist. Art is like doing drugs but it’s not illegal. You finish one thing to get the feeling of satisfaction and then you're unsatisfied until the next time. Then you work hard to try and repeat that same high.” #notastranger