Monica Canilao - profile

Monica Canilao

United States 1984

Installation, Sculpture, Conceptual Art, Collage

Monica Canilao
Monica Canilao
United States
March 22, 2016

Monica Canilao makes art from various types of objects and uses several different techniques of implementing them into one unique piece. She uses only second-hand stuff because she deeply believes used stuff has more soul and more spirit inside. Spiritually driven, this talented artist collects ordinary and everyday items people often throw away, while they are in still good condition. She has an idea of exploring how a man perceives an instrumental object. Sometimes the meaning of an object is derived from its usage capabilities, and sometimes people get attached to things because they look pretty or have some sentimental value. This aspiring woman subsumes this emotional attachment to the idea of home. Home, as a sacred place we live and exist, a place we are born or reborn.

Canilao explores how a man perceives an instrumental object

march gallery time swoon book just house new project oakland francisco city studio gallery time swoon book just house Canilao - Light seeps Outward (detail) (left), 2012, Grandmother Spider (middle), 2012, Tracing tracks (detail) (right), 2012
Monica Canilao – Light seeps Outward (detail) (left), 2012, Grandmother Spider (middle), 2012, Tracing tracks (detail) (right), 2012 photo credits

Constant Flows of Creation

She paints, makes prints, stitches, weaves, combines various kinds of material into elaborative installations. Canilao grew up between San Francisco and San Jose in Redwood City, California and is still attached to her home area. She comes from a family of carpenters and artists, and she got used to having constant flows of creation since she was young. Not believing in certainty and static modes of creative existence she keeps changing the extent of her installations. Her upbringing was imbued with a heartfelt philosophy of sharing and communal living. From worn clothes to used appliances, her family distributed everything. She graduated from California College of Arts and Crafts and started making fiber art, and transferred from painting to illustration. That felt more liberating and prolific.

Canilao follows a heartfelt philosophy of sharing and communal living

march march march march gallery time long long swoon book just house gallery time swoon book just house new project oakland francisco city studio Canilao - St randed (detail), photo credits
Monica Canilao – Stranded (detail), photo credits

Staying Close to Community

Always being surrounded by friends, associates, and other artists, this young woman pushed herself hard in the real world after college and established her profession. She stays close to her community of creative people while working in shared studios. Not confined by the choice of material, she makes entire walls into scrapbooks, glueing, sewing, stitching pieces of other people’s memories together. Installations are always custom made to harmonise with a specific vibe a site has and in those installations, she openly embraces the creative flow. She mixes things, stories, ideas, origin of objects, and bonds them under the concept of holistic relationships. She has a big archive in her studio because she’s constantly hunting for memories. Since overproduction leads to obsessive shopping, and then excessive waste production, no wonder her place is crowded.

In Monica’s work, all parts intertwine and blend together, creating a peculiar and distinctive alchemic art

Revoking the Desire for Ownership and Sharing

Canillo makes boats, portraits, jewelry, she designs artwork for music records, she even teaches costume to children in kindergarten. This rich fusion of activities inspires her to do more work, more collaborations, to enrich every single aspect of her life. When she takes used parts to build a new installation she weaves a net of meaning that stimulates viewers to remember their own personal history with similar objects, or to revoke the desire for possession. Her collaborative spirit led her to do a project called Alchemy in which she pushes people outside of the box and makes them think openly. Her unchained vision found itself somewhere between wooden houses, shell chandeliers, totems and game boards. In her work, all parts intertwine and blend together, creating a peculiar and distinctive alchemic art.

Canilao creates peculiar alchemic art

gallery gallery long gallery Monica Canilao - Smoke City (detail)
Monica Canilao – Smoke City (detail)

Photography, Illustration and Painting with Juxtapoz artist Swoon

When visiting friends she always inspects how their furniture is put together, how their collections are organized, how their material stuff lives. She believes they put a piece of them in everything they own. For her creations, she only uses items with expired service, the decomposition of the original. After death, there are only ghosts still lingering somewhere between quilts, fabric, glue, paper, tea bags, strings and feathers. Her latest show she did with Juxtapoz cover artist Swoon Witch Wife features 3D sculpture forms, block prints, wheatpaste and painting. The theme revolves around dreams and original dream experiences that were collected from anonymous strangers. All of their work reflects their personal lives and a lot of misplaced or rejected items found their home in their dreamy and magical sculptures.

Monica Canilao lives and works in Oakland, California.

All images used for illustrative purpose only.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Witch-Wife (with Swoon)Chandran Gallery, San FranciscoDuo
2015AlchemyInner State Gallery, DetroitGroup
2014San Diego Art FairSan Diego, USGroup
2014Born From RuinsSubliminal Projects, Los AngelesSolo
2012Public art project for DC 5x5Washington DCGroup
2012Happy MediumNancy Victor Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2012The Folding of a Known World Galleria Patricia Armocida, Milano, Italy Group
2012Small19Karen, Queensland, Australia Group
2012StreetopiaThe Luggage Store & the Tenderloin National Forest, San Francisco, CAGroup
2012Art Now: A survey of Urban Contemporary ArtArt Now NY. Chelsea, New YorkGroup
2012JBuilding in DetroitThe Treasure nestGroup
2012Suspension of disbeliefWunderkammern, Rome, ItalyGroup
2011Little Old One with Bunny ReissLopo, San Francisco, CASolo
2011Monica Canilao with Kyle RansonKretz, Malamo, Sweden Solo
2011What's lost is safeSky High, Milwaukee, WI Solo
2011Future sounds: An Installation in collaboration with Jason JaworskiSF Public Works, San Francisco, CASolo
2011Good FolksShow & Tell gallery. Toronto, CanadaGroup
2011RessurectionCinders, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2011Sugar Mountain FestivalForum Theater. Melbourne, AustraliaGroup
2011Outside Lands festivalSan Francisco, CAGroup
2011Paper quilt, collaborative work with Alexis MackenzieThe Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA Group
2011PassportSFAC Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2011PachagandaGalleria De La Raza, San Francisco, CaliforniaGroup
2011Regency reconstruction - destruction project in collaboration with Rabid Hands CollectiveColumbia, MissouriGroup
2011The More We Wander with Kyle RansonNeedles & Pens, San Francisco, CaliforniaGroup
2010Monica CanilaoFemina Potens, San Francisco, CASolo
2010Monica CanilaoLyon-Martin, San Francisco, CASolo
2010We are dustCinders Gallery, Brooklyn, NYCSolo
2010Back to the WildFemina Potens, San Francisco, CAGroup
2010SUBject – subJECTLos Angeles, CAGroup
2010The get togetherMarin Headlands, Marin, CAGroup
2010Art FortsSan Francisco Day School, San Francisco, CAGroup
2010We haven’t felt this way in years IIHeist Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2010Decade with no nameBest of the East Bay, Jack London Square. Oakland, CAGroup
2010Hello SweedenKretz, Malamo, SwedenGroup
2010WallpaperArt & Design Barcelona Gallery, Barcelona, SpainGroup
2010The bridge is overLopo, San Francisco, CA Group
2010Wreck the wallsSubliminal Projects, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2010Golden StateRVCA. San Francisco, CAGroup
2009Our starry universeArt of this, Minneapolis, MN Group
2009Deeper Visions IIShelter Surf Shop, Long Beach, CA Group
2009Hot & Cold ZineBaer Ridgeway, SF Group
2009CCA 2009 Illustration Dept Faculty & Alumni ShowCCAC, San Francisco, CAGroup
2009Distance Don't MatterSpace, Portland, MaineGroup
2009Gen nMACLA, San Jose, CA Group
2009Juxtapoz 15th Anniversary showFactory Palace Arts. LA, CA Group
2009PANKABESTIA: Punk Beasts of the Swimming Cities of SerenissimaAnonymous Gallery, New York Group
2008Feral, with SwoonThe Luggage Store Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2008One long funeral song with Kyle RansonSpace 1026. Philadelphia, PASolo
2008Group Exchange show96 Gillespi, London, England Group
2008Balls OutGrass Hut, Portland, ORGroup
2008Hope Springs EternalNeedles & Pens. San Francisco, CA Group
2008CombineBLVD Gallery. Seattle, WAGroup
2008There: New art from OaklandDi Rosa Preserve, Napa, CA Group
2008All cut upRoebling Hall, New York, NYGroup
2008Locals onlyRVCA. San Francisco, CaliforniaGroup
2008Art Makes Eye ContactSecret Project Robot. Brooklyn, New YorkGroup
2008ContainAnonymous Gallery, New York, New YorkGroup
2008Bobby Hutton Memorial BenefitThe Luggage Store Gallery. San Francisco, CAGroup
2008Spirit animals - Animal spirit Sweet hickory. Bloomington, IndianaGroup
2007Tones of earth and bone, with The Polariod KidPaper Boat Gallery, Milwaukee, WI Solo
2007IllustriousCompound Gallery, Portland, ORGroup
2007Femmes ForcesAi Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
2007Less is More111 Minna Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2007Group showGalleria De La Raza, San Francisco, CA Group
2007Ethsix Magazine LaunchIntersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CAGroup
2007Porch ShowCinders Gallery, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2007Fecal Face Art Party111 Minna Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2007Downy Bird Art Kingdom Book Release and exhibitionOnsix Gallery, SF, CAGroup
2007Ethsix Magazine111 Minna Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2007Heap with Swoon + David EllisBlack Rat Press, London, England Group
2007Convergence: CCAC AlumniOakland museum at the Oakland Airport, Oakland, CAGroup
2007PachangaGaleria de la Raza, San Francisco, CAGroup
2006Monica CanilaoHomemade Cafe, Oakland, CASolo
2006The DispossessedNeedles and Pens, San Francisco, CA Solo
2006Sold OutWhite Walls Gallery. San Francisco, CAGroup
2006InterwovenOnsix Gallery. San Francisco, CA Group
2006Osaka Print ExchangeOliver Art Center, Oakland, CA Group
2006Ethsix Magazine Launch & Art ExhibitionAR Space. San Francisco, CA Group
2006Well HungWhite Walls Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2006The Sleeping Habits of StrangersCell Space, San Francisco, CA Group
2006Best of The Bay ShowOnsix Gallery, San Francisco, CA Group
2006LabyrinthRed Ink Studios & Onsix, San Francisco, CA Group
2006We Will All Be WellSpace Gallery, San Francisco, CA Group
2006Oakland: West Side StoryYerba Buena Center for the Arts, SF, CA Group
2006The Girls RoomJen Beckman Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2006Dirty HandsCinders Gallery, Brooklyn, NY Group
2006Gratitude Nights111 Townsend, San Francisco, CAGroup
2006Destroy EverythingDam, Stuhltrager Gallery, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2005This Is HomeIsabel Percy West Gallery, Oakland, CASolo
2005Sacred GeometryOnsix Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2005InterwovenOnsix Gallery, San Francisco, CA Group
2005Group ShowChow, San Francisco, CAGroup
2005Ocean Crossing: Osaka Print ExchangeOliver Art Center, Oakland, CAGroup
2005Ghosts and MonstersNexus Gallery, Berkeley, CA Group
2005Bucky PrintersBoontling Gallery, Oakland, CA Group
2005Group ShowKyle's, Berkeley, CA Group
2005Every Dog Has It's DayRed Ink Studios, San Francisco, CAGroup
2005UndergroundCounter Pulse, San Francisco, CA Group
2005None The LessNeedles and Pens, San Francisco, CAGroup
2005ComfortMission 17 Gallery, San Francisco, CA Group
2005LaberinthRed Ink Studios with Onsix Gallery, San Francisco Group
2005Mission Art Walk: 14th Street Mural ProjectNeedles and Pens, SFGroup
2004Seven Deadly SinsOnsix Gallery, San Francisco, CA Group
2004Congratulations, with Jamie NelsonBurning Tree Cafe, Oakland, CAGroup
2003The Bent ShowLobot Gallery, Oakland, CA Group
2003Group ShowNeedles and Pens, San Francisco, CAGroup