I'm passionate about building community through storytelling.
Connections emerge each time I sit down to listen and share someone's story. Storytelling through photography and the written word fulfills my lifelong desire to create work that matters. I had the pleasure of meeting interdisciplinary artist and sculptor, Erin Monet Wheary during my artist residency at Chateau Orquevaux in France. Erin was the associate director of the artist residency program at the time.
Meet interdisciplinary artist Erin Monet Wheary...
Erin Monet Wheary was born and raised in Portland, Oregon.
She received her BA in sculpture and printmaking from the University of Puget Sound in 2013 and a MFA in sculpture from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2018. Massachusetts instate tuition rates were made possible because Erin worked as a camp counselor in the Berkshires during the summer months.
Erin inherited her passion for the arts from her father.
In fact, she would call her father and ask, “Can you help me come up with a title of this piece?” They would communicate over the phone and find a solution through support and dialog. Erin feels blessed that both her parents were able to attend her MFA show in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, her father passed away shortly thereafter from a year-long battle with cancer. Erin learned from this experience and the importance of sharing good news with people you love.
Interdisciplinary Artist Erin Monet Wheary originally planned to study painting and drawing.
Then she experienced a slight deviation to film studies because watching and discussing movies professionally intrigued her. Finally, Erin stepped into her first sculpture class and it clicked. Everything made sense. Erin understands space and sees the world through a sculpture lens.
Nature and architecture inspire Erin Monet Wheary. She is fascinated by the process of water eroding the ground. She believes ideas exist all around us. Some of her closest friends are scientists so she draws inspiration from the scientific method. In addition to duality, order and chaos, hard geometry with free-form lines and life in general.
She remembers staring out toward the island at Chateau Orquevaux and thinking the trees represent Cain and Abel.
The left tree is healthy and the right one is consistently beaten by lightening and storms. It’s burning from the inside, but it’s still alive. The desire to live regardless of stress and strain is the definition of resilience.
I asked Erin what she is most proud of and one particular sculpture installation comes to her mind.
Erin co-designed a sculpture which she has never touched or seen. Swarthmore students, faculty and staff are all over the world so Erin had them send her their GPS coordinates. Then she etched them on plexiglass modules, fit them together and suspended the sculpture titled Parts of a Whole. Erin designed it, but did not install it. How crazy it is to think about a material person such as Erin who physically touches and handles all her art is most proud of an installation which she did neither.
Create a Life in the Arts
Erin believes everyone’s journey is different and there are many ways to put a life together in the arts. Each experience is a piece of a roadmap. When she stresses about what’s coming next, she realizes it’s like banging your head against the wall and no good comes from it. You just end up with a headache. She advises others to relax and trust the process. Be your authentic self with everything you do. Things happen when opportunity meets experiences and be ready when opportunity arises. Never give up. Rejections will happen, but keep working at it. “You plan and God laughs," Erin states.
Erin Monet Wheary now teaches sculpture at Western New Mexico University.
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