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Monique Birault

First things first, I must acknowledge this moment. I support all protests, and felt frustrated that I couldn’t participate because of health issues. It’s been a long road. On March 16th when Los Angeles was told to shelter in place, I stayed home because we were told to. Now, I stay home because I want to stay alive.  I’m now aware that being a black woman with an auto immune disorder puts me in a very high risk group for COVID19 fatality.  Often I think how odd it is that there’s an illness, potentially right outside my front door that I can’t see, and it would probably kill me.

June 3th, I was notified of a silent at home protest. Finally, I could participate safely. I stood outside my home, 9pm, flashlight to the sky, silent for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.  It was surprisingly powerful!! It’s longer than you think, I could feel my muscles become more and more tense, a knot in my stomach, asking myself when will it end! How could any human being do what that man did, and think it’s ok. 

Before COVID, due to family health issues and my own, my art work had shifted to mostly sketching and commissions that I feel grateful for. COVID19 has been shocking; about limits and limitations. It’s been hard to witness all the pain and suffering, close and far.  In the past, hard times were a catalyst for creativity. Initially, I thought, this is horrible, we will help each other and get through this. Not so simple. My creative drive dropped off a cliff.  I have to remind myself to breathe deeply, stay focused on gratitude and helping others when I can. I am grateful I can work from home, and have a loving helpful partner. 

Gold pendant on black, vessel

Cognizant that I needed a creative outlet for my sanity. Being an architect who makes art jewelry through what I call cold forging or forged sculpting, a tactile iterative process is what moves me. The kinetic aspect is generative and integral to my process.  The work is made by hand. Grappling with the reality that my normal pathways to inspiration were interrupted, I needed to do something different to find my creative self and get out of the COVID cage. I found myself drawn to repairing ceramics that had accidently broken into multiple pieces, along with nurturing orchids to bloom. These actions opened the door to older ideas that hadn’t yet found light.  Perhaps the ruminations on life, death, and a new path, lead me to contemplate the shape of new life and curiosity about the shape of eggs. Artistically, it seems rare that one can truly trace the origin of ideas unless it’s a commission or public art, both of which I have done.  My work has always focused on the beauty of imperfection, ideas combined with discovery, or at times uncovering of the object. If there was ever a time to engage uncovering and discovery, I think it’s now.

Silver, Eggs

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