Where are you from and where do you reside?
I was born here in the States, grew up in Puerto Rico, and am currently based in Rochester, NY.
What’s your favorite part of living in Rochester?
Rochester has been a great place to begin my career as an artist. There’s a vibrant art community here and it’s an affordable city that’s allowed me to focus my efforts and pursue my work full time. Not to mention the many, many relationships I’ve fostered with so many like minded people here.
Have you always been a painter?
Painting has always been my primary outlet. It’s the manipulation of color in a very tangible way that I’m most drawn to. Although, I would say my work tends to blur the lines between drawing and painting. I don’t overemphasize the physical qualities of the paint (ie, texture, sheen, etc.) to articulate the works as ‘paintings’, but I do enjoy the manipulation of pigments and colors. So in that way, I feel like they are more paintings than drawings.
Did you go to art school?
I went to the State University of New York at Oswego. I graduated with a BFA and MA in painting and drawing.
What's a typical day in the studio like for you?
I like to be in the studio as early as possible, to take advantage of as much daylight as I can. I’ll probably clean up a bit, drink my coffee, read some news, watch the NBA highlights from the night before, and make a list of things I hope to accomplish that day. By mid morning, I’m usually in full paint mode.
You have a strategy of creating temporary, 2D still-lifes to come up with compositions. How did you arrive at this strategy, and how did you know it was the right one?
The technique of pushing cut paper around really arose for a need to capture more spontaneous moments – even more spontaneous or less conscious than actually drawing or sketching. It’s a much faster process that forces me to think less and rely more on instinct. Once I come across a moment of interest, I can slow down and develop the composition further.
What are you most interested in representing through your works?
It’s about capturing flashes in time when explosive, inanimate forms can converge in a single moment of simultaneous balance and chaos.
The technique of pushing cut paper around really arose for a need to capture more spontaneous moments – even more spontaneous or less conscious than actually drawing or sketching.
Can you talk more about how you see these as portraying both balance and chaos?
I think that’s what composition is all about. Whether we’re arranging the furniture in our house, organizing our record collection, or arranging forms in a painting, it’s always about creating a balance and order from chaos. I enjoy the nuance of arranging spontaneous chaos that’s just on the verge of order, but maintains the energy and tension of not knowing where the forms might end up next.
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
One of the hardest things are ‘off’ days. Understanding that some days will be more productive than others is always difficult. Some days will just be difficult to get into any sort of groove and you need to know when to walk away.
How important is spontaneity in your art?
Spontaneity is most important early on in the process. I rely heavily on spontaneity and chance as a jumping off point for developing compositions. From there, I can spend more time developing these initial moments into more balanced and cohesive compositions.
What qualities do you look for in a composition?
What I’m looking for most is balance, space, and motion. I think most people confuse balance with symmetry, but I love to explore balance in asymmetrical compositions. Those moments between positive and negative space can create a lot of tension, and that’s something I’m really drawn to. I like to think of my forms/colors as elements in perpetual motion floating through a void in space – the paintings are just perfectly timed snapshots in this space.
Whether we’re arranging the furniture in our house, organizing our record collection, or arranging forms in a painting, it’s always about creating a balance and order from chaos.
You use the pseudonym St Monci - how did you choose the name?
The name comes from my early days in graffiti. When I first started I was writing Monci -- it’s what people called me. Later, I started writing Saint. When I first began showing my studio work it was really important to me to hold onto those graffiti roots, so I combined my names and exhibited under that pseudonym.
You also used to work as a framer - do you think that that's informed your work to some extent?
My time as a framer really taught me the importance of presentation. To me, a work isn’t actually complete until I’ve framed it. I like presenting a painting as a complete object and I believe framing it presents it as such in a context that I believe is best suited for the work. I’ve learned by giving up that control, your work could end up out of a context that perhaps you never intended.