What’s Lost Is Safe

Sky High Gallery. Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Sky High Gallery presents

“What’s Lost Is Safe” A solo exhibition by Monica Canilao

Curated by Faythe Levine

Sky High Gallery is pleased to welcome Monica Canilao in her first solo exhibition in Milwaukee entitled “What’s Lost Is Safe”. Monica will be building an elaborate nostalgia based site-specific installation. It is a follow up to her 2007 collaboration with photographer Mike Brodie (Thee Polaroid Kidd) at Paper Boat Gallery. Four years later, the wildly prolific Canilao’s career is taking off as she finds herself splitting her time between her studio and art based travel.  “What’s Lost Is Safe” will feature modified antique parlor portraits enshrined in collections of natural and human-made objects she will be scavenging locally from Milwaukee’s forgotten places. In the manipulation of her orphaned portraits, gender and identity is blurred, redefined and made fluid. Monica’s compositions seamlessly meld the old and new: stained paper, discarded fabric, even tea bags and bones combine with her hands to take part in breathing new life. Canilao and her crew will be working around the clock for five days building and scavenging onsite leading up to the opening. Monica’s staggeringly beautiful, almost haunted work reminds us that everything built is made up of things in a phase of decay.

Monica Canilao hails from Oakland, CA where she spends her days stitching, painting, printing, building and breathing life into the refuse that dominates our time and place. Recent projects include what Juxtapoz Magazine best describes as “creating an entire world within a house”- an ongoing project led by Canilao and executed with the assistance of her creative community. Together, with her vision they are turning a once abandon house into a full scale art project- inside and out. She is one of twelve recent recipients of the 2011 Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishacker Foundation, and has shown in galleries, community spaces, and abandoned places worldwide. Canilao received her BFA from California College of Arts and Crafts (2005).

Artist Statement:

“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 protectors and what’s lost is safe.”



MAY 6- JULY 31, 2011