We Are Dust

Cinders Gallery. Brooklyn, New York


Every place she goes she is picking up the abandoned remnants of other people’s lives. ‘We are dust’ is Monica Canilao’s first New York solo exhibition featuring found antique portraits, enshrined in the collections she has amassed through time. Everything built is made up of things abandoned, in a phase of decay. In the manipulation of these orphaned portraits, gender and identity is blurred, redefined and made fluid. Monica’s compositions seamlessly meld the old and new: stained paper, withered fabric, and bones combine with her hands to take part in breathing new life.


“The past is not something you can choose to leave behind. It guides your hand and sways your gaze, it is blood and tears and bliss. Paint chip trails and ghost images are left behind in abandoned places, lived in to death and pieces. Every life leaves an imprint. Plants shoot out roots and break through foundations, found under the floorboards. You rub your eyes clear for the first time and see the war paint that has always been there, running rainforest colors across your cheeks.These past histories unearthed are not a thing that you’ve lost, it’s a veil sitting just behind your eyes, weaving, running, somewhere just beyond the treeline. These Old faces are your faces, and Your hands have built things without permission. Every tiny effort feeds and is recycled… The universe is so large that all we can do is hold on and take care of one another… because In the end We are just dust and more dust.” -Monica Canilao



APRIL 30, 2010