Monika Steiner's art is fully embodied with energy and appeal... especially if you're into the metaphysical. A San Francisco transplant by way of Switzerland, Monika paints in oil and sculpts in bronze full time from her studio in Northern California. You may have seen her commissioned 2011 heart piece if you found yourself walking through Union Square. She is featured in galleries from San Francisco to Seattle, Santa Fe, New York, and Berlin. Interested in space and philosophies myself, I was ecstatic to get the chance to interview this amazing woman.
Read on for the Q&A...
E À L M: Your use of Metaphysical concepts bridges a beautiful span across the contemplation of art. What do you feel when you paint?
MS: So the way I paint is first I meditate, five to ten minutes every time I paint. I do a grounding technique that helps me stir creativity from a peaceful place. First it clears my mind and calms me down; my goal is not to think but just to paint. I want to put my positive intentions into the piece. I truly believe that by putting good intentions into my work, good energy will come out of it. Like when Buddhist's build a Stuppa, each step of the way they fill it with good thoughts, good intentions and ritual objects believing that it is not only going to be an object of worship but will actually emanate positive energy into the world.
E À L M: What interested you in particles and space? The drama of the tension is exquisite.
MS: I am very intrigued by the idea of thoughts having mass and aggregating, first as tiny particles and growing bigger...all the way to the largest spheres I can think of which are planets and the sun. From the microscopic realm to the unfathomable scale of space, all this spherical perfection is in nature, everywhere. I think the tension in the paintings comes from us intuitively knowing that spheres are one of nature's master creations and knowing that tremendous energy is exchanged when nature uses this shape to express itself.
These massive scale shifts in nature interest me in terms of metaphysics and Buddhism or faith and science… what is that transition from energy to matter all about? It makes me think where do we come from, where are we going? The centuries old study of reality and the unseen aspect of life, for me in this era, involves intentions affecting or actually becoming something solid in the physical world. I guess the most simple example I can give is how I must start each blank canvas with nothing but intention until a whole new cluster of matter is formed on that surface. It's happening all the time all around us but we don't spend the time to really marvel at the miracle that it is. There have been lots of new studies on intentions and how they affect particles, how gross matter is influenced by subtle matter - that's exciting!
E À L M: Do you draw upon other influences from your life outside of fine art? What influences from your background have come into play?
MS: I think it all started when I had an outer body experience when I had my accident (falling off a horse). I couldn’t walk for 6 months. I started reading a ton of books. Scientific books about things that couldn’t be explained, trying to understand why this happened to me, that influenced me a lot.
Now I’m still drawing a lot from metaphysics, Buddhism, science… but I also pick up a lot of visuals and influences when I travel, especially when I was in Egypt. When I saw the Sun God Ra, with the sphere shape over his head, I found it captivating. I began to research it a bit and found the sphere shape very repetitious within religion and within my life. It is natures most efficient shape. Painting it has become compulsory.
E À L M: I'm loving that your perception of art concepts can also easily be applied to a perception of life. Do you have a link there?
MS: I truly believe that art should be an outer reflection of our inner most feelings and thoughts. The best art is coming from a place that is truthful and sincere. If you aren't willing to show that, or can't find that honesty in yourself, your art will not ring true. I put this passion into my work, showing as much of the unseen aspects of my life to others as I can.
E À L M: If there was anything you could do all day, what would that be? (Ex: Meditation, eat ice cream, ride a Ferris wheel... etc.)
MS: Besides painting?! I can’t think of a single thing I would like to do all day besides painting. But let me try...well, I like very much to be in nature. Growing up in Switzerland, nature is a huge source of inspiration and refuge for me. Just being outside on a nice day is great. (pause) Research. That probably sounds horrible but researching things like metaphysics, life and death, near death experiences… (laughs). I am a girl so I do love shopping, I will admit to that, but even I get bored after a few hours so I think I will have to stick with painting. Final Answer!