Monica Palma’s art practice is rooted in drawing and involves a nexus of incisions, folds, spits, embraces, casts, and molds. Palma is interested in the extraction of matter as a symbolic act of purification and of blasphemy and satiety—slicing, spitting, licking and holding an object allows her to extract its shape and make it visible.
The pigments in Palma’s works speak to the cyclical nature of life: how the ashes of hardwood trees are turned into activated charcoal and sold as a natural health remedy or brought back into the world as ink for casting and rubbing. She uses paper as a recording device to collect information from her body through heavily pigmented ink or casein surfaces. She hugs and molds paper against her skin, creating creases, wrinkles, and folds. These folds are further transformed through slicing, tracing and cutting, subtracting the fibers of the paper and exposing the pulp.
For her materials, Palma gathers discarded industrial materials like rubbish, cement, and broken pieces of slate, from the streets in her neighborhoods in Mexico City and New York; from Mexico, she collects the raw and sculpted pieces of obsidian commonly sold as souvenirs. In the studio, she relates these collected objects to her body with sheets of paper and games of chance. The objects become dice or auguries: embodiments of questions posed in the act of tossing or spitting them onto the surfaces of the paper: What next? What for? In which direction? Until when? She glues the objects where they land on the paper, and when they’ve dried, she then rejects or accepts the outcomes, forcibly removing objects, tearing the paper, or starting the process again.
Mónica Palma was born in Mexico City and is based in New York City. Exhibitions venues include TSA, Brooklyn; 245 Varet Street, Brooklyn; Ortega y Gasset Projects, Brooklyn; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Underdonk Gallery, New York; Dixon Place, New York; and Soloway Gallery, New York. Her work has been featured in Art in America, Artforum, Actualize Magazine, Temporary Art Review, and The Coastal Post. Palma studied visual art at the Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa, Veracruz and received an MFA in Painting and Printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University.