We had the good fortune of connecting with Monica Malone and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Monica, why did you pursue a creative career?
I’ve been creating for as long as I can remember! Literally, nothing else makes sense to me. I struggled with the science and math part of school, and knew that a career in the arts was what I was meant to do. My mom owned a dance studio, so I’ve been performing since I was three – it seemed natural to me to continue on that path. I joke now, that I love attention and I’m no longer afraid to admit that – I’m a people person and I tend to thrive when there is an audience. As I got older, I understood the importance of the art we create, particularly the importance of story telling, and that is now the basis for the majority of my work. What story am I trying to tell? In performance, it’s usually someone else’s story. In my visual art, it’s usually my own story. I have this need inside of me to make things, I haven’t found another way of describing it. I like to make things in as many ways as I can. It’s like a challenge to me, a puzzle that has the greatest reward – something new and unique I made with my brain, body, and my hands.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started as a painter and a dancer and those are still my favorite things to do. I’m passionate about intersectional feminism and the environment and a few years ago I decided I would become what I call a Low Waste Artist. I’ve accumulated so many materials over the years that I was determined to use as much of them as I could. I like turning trash into unexpected things and I hope to encourage others to find ways of reusing materials they normally wouldn’t. Going Zero Waste is unattainable for me currently, and is very difficult – arguably impossible – to do in our society, but by going Low Waste, I have been able to create pieces I normally wouldn’t by using materials I never thought of as art supplies. Because I do many different types of art, it has been fun to use scraps from sewing projects to make jewelry, or headbands. Or use plastic bags as fabric. Or using junk mail and vintage books to make collages. Never underestimate the power of gluing pieces of paper to other pieces of paper.
Lately, I’ve been working through a lot of underlying fear that had developed throughout college. Fear of not being good enough, of failing, of doing it all “wrong”, of making mistakes. I have quite literally had to force myself to just create and actually allow myself to make mistakes or make bad art. I give myself specific journals/sketchbooks/spaces to make mistakes or try new things. Finding safe spaces like that has helped my creativity blossom in a way I never thought possible. I had to find that for myself first before I felt brave enough to share my art, and share it unapologetically. I still tend to over explain myself/my art and that is part of the fear I’m continuing to work through. I worry that others won’t like it or won’t “get it” and I remind myself everyday that things like that are not important. What is important to me now is the process. That’s where the joy of creating comes in for me. The final result is nice and all, but during the middle bit there is a sense of magic that no one else can feel but me. Sometimes I go into a project looking for that magic and sometimes it sneaks up on me. I’ve learned the importance of saying “fuck it” and then just doing it.
A young woman I looked up to growing up, who was also an artist, once said to me, “Art is all opinion.” Meaning there will be hundreds of thousands of opinions and no two will be the same. I can’t hold on to all those different opinions, the only ones that matter are my own and those closest to me. Because I make so many different things, my art never seems to have a cohesive look and within capitalism that doesn’t really work. I can’t help that I get bored easy and like to try new things. If art is all opinion, then my opinion is, it’s important to make art in whatever way you want. And to trust. the. process.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
THE AQUARIUM. I love Atlanta’s aquarium and it is always the first place I suggest for people who are visiting. Oakland Cemetery is a tie with the aquarium for favorite places in ATL. I’ve always loved Cemeteries and I think it’s important to visit them.
I also love coffee shops and Atlanta has some of the best – my favs are San Francisco Coffee Co., Little Tart, B-side, and the West Egg Cafe. Nothing can beat coffee and an egg and cheese sandwich for me.
Manuel’s Tavern (or as I was told to call it, Manny’s) was the first place I went with friends when I moved here and it is still a staple for me to take people when they visit.
Hoping on some scooters or bikes and riding the beltline is also a must. Going to the more “unpopular” spots, like the West End Beltline are great for a unique experience that wont be over crowded with people.
The bookhouse pub is also one of my favorite spots. Their atmosphere is everything I want in a bar. Plus all the BOOKS. It’s like my dream library. A library with liquor!
I love Sweet Water Creek, Stone Mountain, and other outside adventures, I’m always up to try new things, and while I have lived in Atlanta for 5 years, I’m still exploring the city myself!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I was lucky to have parents who did not understand me, but let me be myself. They saw how much I loved art and found me opportunities to do that. They still don’t always understand, but they are very encouraging, as are my sisters. My art teacher growing up lived down the street from me and she became like another grandmother, she taught me so much about life, art, and myself that I think about her everyday. My friends, however, are my lifeline. I’m basically a taller version of Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec – Galentine’s Day is my JAM and I could not have gotten anywhere if I didn’t have solid friends around me. It’s my dream to lift my friends and family up the same way they have lifted me.
I also have to shout out Robin Williams. He is a big reason why I feel I can do what I do. My energy is reminiscent of his, and when I look back on why I wanted to perform, he is a big part of the reason. I saw him on Seseme Street as a kid, my mom told me he was the voice of the Genie in Aladdin, my eyes went wide and my future was born!
Instagram: @marvelatthisgirl @marflorious
Other: My blog on my website is called Marflorious. I’m a huge fan of Marvel and Flowers and so I literally just combined the two to give myself a spot that is uniquely me!
The picture of me is by Emily Diamond of BeautyDoesATL Her instagram is @lynettediamond and @beautydoesatl All other photos I took myself!