Mona Shomali is a U.S. based artist. She was born in California in 1979. She began painting seriously at 15 years old after being introduced to nude life drawing classes sponsored by the Berkeley Artists Guild.
Mona Shomali’s paintings address both cultural themes and conflicts at the intersection of human rights and ecology.
Her first collection is titled “Naked Folklore” and served as a surreal narrative of the Iranian-American woman’s experience. More specifically, this collection was an exploration of the opposing dichotomies within female cultural identity- such as freedom and shame, traditional and modernity, public and private, vulnerability and pride, and oppression and liberation. Naked Folklore was a vehicle to provide an alternative depiction of Iranian women who are most often seen in western media dressed in black veils- shapeless, sexless, as if having no desire, voice or agency of their own. Alternatively, the women in this series of paintings are symbolically and metaphorically nude as they define their own selves within the assumptions of culture.
Her second collection is titled “Invisible Stains” and is a reflection on cultural ethos and the way we treat our environments when it comes to pollution, extraction, and environmental-social inequity. Throughout this series, the theme of ecology is explored as a discussion of interconnected relationships, ecological communities, adaptation vs. control, finding equilibrium, and questioning the role that power, fear and ego play when it comes to resource management. When it comes to the defense of the environment, Mona has had the honor to work with many defenders of environmental justice, such as the Makushi and the Sarayacu of the South American Amazon. In Mona’s experiences, the communities that are most culturally aligned with ecology, also appear to the most vulnerable to the aggressive political-economic exploitations that lead to the abuse of their human rights. These conflicts have informed this series by providing a window of exposure to resource-based belief systems and various cultural modes of environmental management.
Mona’s upcoming and third collection is titled “Patterns of Intimacy” and will be a visual dialogue about sexual intimacy, relationships and the form of the human body– set to a background of ornate textile designs.