Elizabeth Monks Hack featured artist at Lompoc gallery
“I find joy in the act of creation and a certain bliss when the outcome answers a question, fulfills a need, results in a clear visual response to my imagination. Quiet scenes extracted from the flux of contemporary life have been the focus of my work,” said Elizabeth Monks Hack, whose art is featured in “Piecework: An Exhibition of Patchwork Paintings” that is on view through Sept. 25 at the Cypress Gallery, 119 E. Cypress Ave. in Lompoc.
A reception for the artist will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Her work consists of oil and mixed media on sewn canvas, a new direction for the artist. Ms. Monks Hack often incorporates abstract geometries into her compositions, emphasizing edges and other linear elements.
“When I sew and then stretch the canvases, the edges are pulled off-kilter, an effect I want. So if the lines are crooked, that is why,” she said.
In “Piecework,” the artist has taken the edge a step further by sewing canvas pieces together to initiate the works’ conversation.
“The ‘patchwork paintings’ are a natural extension of my concern with geometry and pattern-making, of the picture plane and the edges of the things I see. I like to think of my paintbrush as a wand with which I animate objects, like a magician. The craft of transforming a two-dimensional surface into a three-dimensional world continues for me to be somewhat miraculous,” said Ms. Monks Hack, a contemporary realist painter with “an intense passion for all manifestations of art and culture.”
She has worked as an arts educator, fashion designer, comic book artist and children’s book illustrator, while maintaining her painting career — her “spiritual home.” Early travels to Europe, the Middle East, India and Nepal initiated her love of global culture, which she continues to explore.
“Beginning with conventional notions of the urban landscape and still life tradition, I often introduce the abstract geometry of the scene into the composition,” Ms. Monks Hack told the News-Press.
“Getting to the way I paint was an intuitive process — one intuitive step at time. Conceptual art, the notion of the integrity of the picture plane and the Ocean Park paintings of Diebenkorn seem to have stayed with me,” she said. “As a very young person, Vermeer was the first painter I couldn’t get enough of.”
A graduate of UC Irvine with a bachelor’s degree in studio art, Ms. Monks Hack and a friend began a successful clothing business, after which she studied at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.
“I was working in the fashion industry when an opportunity to spend a year in Morocco arose. At that point, fate diverged, and fashion was the road not taken,” she said. “Over the years, I have retained my love of sewing, of patterns and piecing garments together. That, combined with the ‘conceptual art’ emphasis of my years at UC Irvine, ultimately evolved into the work of this show.”
Ms. Monks Hack, who has a master’s degree in humanities/visual art from Cal State Dominguez Hills, taught art at all levels in Santa Barbara County public schools for more than two decades and at Allan Hancock College and Brandman University before retiring.
A member of Lompoc Valley Arts Council, the Lompoc Valley Art Association and the Santa Barbara Art Association, she maintains an art studio on the central coast and continues to produce and exhibit her oil paintings.
“The underlying structure of our visual experience holds as much interest for me as how that reality appears on the surface. I consider space an active entity and use it to interrupt the integrity of form, setting places and objects into motion in the mind. I hope to suggest the dimension and feeling of time. I hope that my viewers will read the paintings as they would poetry,” said Ms. Monks Hack.