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M Gordon

b.1966

Monique Gordon finds homes for discarded objects, blurring the line between the magical and the mundane. Like the work of Tschabala Self, Wangehi Mutu, and Winifred Rembert, Gordon’s collages rescue ordinary matter like garlic peelings, candy wrappers, orange leaves from a compost pile and roots these objects in purpose. Known for her bright pastels and dreamy watercolors, of multi-dimensionality Gordon says: “I like texture because I like to feel.”

Recently, Gordon completed an extensive photography project, My ‘Hood Is A Museum (2018), a series of nature images that documents the pre-colonial Lenni Lenape presence in Philadelphia.

Her poems, which are heavily influenced by her dreams, have been published in Diabetes Health, Apiary Magazine, World Enough Writers and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2018 Art Materials Grant from Visual AIDS. Gordon lives in Philadelphia.

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My art uses physicality, memory, and futurity to endow discarded or overlooked objects and places with a renewed purpose. Re-contextualize. Repurpose. Preserve. These three words embody the tenants of my work across mediums. My collages create a theory of meaning, as I pull together scraps of seemingly unrelated and unmeaningful material content -- foil, pastel, candy wrappers, watercolors, garlic peelings, ink -- and locate new significance in these objects. What was once leftovers from a meal, trash or nature becomes fertile ground for thinking about the sacredness in all corners of life. My art is a practice of radical care, conservation, and lifeforce.

Dimensionality and texture give me physical access to an interior world of feeling and knowing. I feel; therefore, I know. I know; therefore, I see. In a recent multi-media project entitled Tribal Voice, I brought an old art piece into its new life. I look at objects and artworks and I see shapes and lives within them. With this project, I saw the shape of a body and began to cut the old sheet of cardboard into my new vision.

My art materials, often taken from that which is available in my kitchen or what grows on my neighborhood’s block, are subject to precarious lives. I often have to ask myself, “will this melt, will this last?”. And that same urgency to preserve raw matter in my work bleeds into my own urgency to preserve historical memory within my art. In a photography project entitled My Hood is a Museum (2018), I took photographs of Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion Historical Park to document the oft-ignored Lenni Lenape and pre-colonial presence through nature images of indigenous plant and wildlife. Here, preservation functions as my deep commitment to redressing historical moments and spatial geographies of the past and present. But themes of preservation in my photography also work to re-contextualize the present. People often think nothing of grace happens in the ‘hood. But when I walk around with my camera, I can find something beautiful, even within a quarter inch of space: a maple leaf buried in the snow, strawberries growing in a garden, blue robin’s eggs sitting high on a tree branch.

My work is obsessed with renewal and feminine energy, which sustains and nurtures us all.

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