This year’s cover artist, Monica Ong, enjoys finding artistic elements in both the ordinary and extraordinary. Her background in digital media from the Rhode Island School of Design mixed with a passion for writing creates her unique visual poetry pieces, many of which use the overlap of text and images. Based in Connecticut, Ong is also the User Experience Designer at the Yale University Digital Humanities Lab.
The chosen piece for the Dogwood ‘21 issue, titled “Indigo Insomnia,” was inspired by the challenging year that the world has endured. Throughout the pandemic she has been creating insomnia themed artwork and writings, going off of “the things that keep her up at night” and what we as humans look to in our past and hope for in our futures. The collage, a landscape of her father and his friends as young doctors immigrating to America layered with a compass-like scientific diagram, symbolizes the complexity and clinical landscape of the universal human psyche mixed with her familial history of starting over somewhere new. These are two different shores that merged within her, and she wanted to convey this mixture of her identity through the collage. She said that she also drew inspiration for this piece by thinking about the way that all young people begin to piece their identities together as they grow older. The picture of her father is from her family’s personal archives, and the diagram was taken from “The Geometrical Psychology of the Science of Representation,” a book by Louisa S. Cook.
Ong tries to think about how writing exists off the page in a given space within our world. She is careful not to fetesize the written word, making sure that every phrase she uses in her artwork is used with a specific purpose and has an intention behind it. She believes that in a world where everything can be questioned, one can bring together many different answers through the use of visual art. She draws inspiration from and resonates with many other artists and writers, such as Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Claudia Rankine and Barbara Kruger. Her newest collection that she has been working on draws from scientific study, looking at items from sources such as astronomy textbooks and constellation maps. The collection, titled “Planetaria”, will be on display at The Institute Library in New Haven starting in mid-June. More information can be found on her website, https://www.monicaong.com/events.
by Katherine Bigelow