Monika Neuland is the kind of artist who, in her own words, is a “craftsperson, a storyteller, a time traveler and a bohemian”. We met Monika, serendipitously, at the Chicago Cultural Center where she had created a vibrant public studio called “Social Fiber”. Her pop up studio was filled with a great variety of looms and handmade textiles pointing to cultures around throughout time. We were smitten; and knew we had to include her artistry in The Storied Table. As part of our ecommerce collection, we wanted to highlight these same qualities of the handmade, the reuse of materials and sustainability, and the elevation of the humble and functional through art.
Monika calls herself a “Social Practice Artist” and has a 20 year history of working within creative work spaces that center around access in the arts and materials reuse. As a maker artist, she is primarily interested in creating opportunities for people to create and participate. She is guided by the way art can redistribute energetic connections in people and communities and that serves as her artistic “internal compass.”
As for inspiration, Monika finds it in “incidental” and “pedestrian” gestures. She loves the everyday “texture of spills, cracks, and mistakes”. In her own words, “I have always been influenced by the folk narratives and by stories of excess and scarcity. Magical realism. I like any good story about eccentric excessive people: The Collyer brothers, Yayoi Kusama, Nek Chand, Jan and Eva Svankmajer and Louise Bourgeois…outsider artists, makers, chefs, hoarders who make environmental work and spend a lifetime doing it. It doesn’t matter to me so much what the eccentricity is..but more that it plays itself out to a monumental creation of a new world…we literally make a new world”.
In additional to being a textile artist, Monika loves to work with ceramics and especially in showing her prowess in “great glaze work and decorative finishes”. We love The Storied Table Seki Bowls that Monika created exclusively for us for their graphic and almost primitive markings that fit into modern and traditional environments. Ceramics, according to Monika, are done “for the love of it, for the madcap experimentation, for the fact that you can work very earnestly on a piece” and then have a certain amount of surprise and serendipity as to the resulting end piece.
Our favorite quote of Monika’s is: “I want to live in a world where there is always a samovar of tea at the ready and an intergenerational/neurologically diverse group of people sitting on handwoven rugs and floor cushions spinning and making baskets or mending things. As an artist and human being I produce constantly and plurally with a changing community.” We’re grabbing one of Monika’s Maya Mugs, hand decorated by the clients of Envision, and meditating on the artful functionality of everything that is Monika Neuland.
We welcome you to come join us on Pinterest where we have posted some of Monika’s inspirations and objects for The Storied Table.