Monica Rose Kelly is an artist based in New Orleans, where she has been running her studio for 10 years. Her practice intersects the fields of fine art, public art, murals, illustration, and design. Monica’s work is vibrant in nature and communicates the energy of the soul. She has been heavily influenced by the strong women in her life and their spiritual journeys, as well as the broader emotional fabric and vibrant culture of her city.
Monica earned a BFA in Illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design, with extensive studies in painting and printmaking. Her current practice focuses on creating large vibrant paintings and public artworks that communicate historical narratives, spiritual archetypes, and musicality.
Monica’s recent body of personal work, “Flora Arcana”, examines the relationship between the Divine Feminine and the Earth; through a series of portraits that depict women using plant medicine and flowers to heal. These portraits explore the possibilities of self-healing mental illnesses in communion with Nature. “Flora Arcana” was premiered as a satellite exhibition of Prospect 4 New Orleans and continues to evolve in dialogue with the women who are reflected within the series.
Monica is passionate about visual storytelling in public spaces, as a modality to preserve histories and create a sense of pride in place. In 2019, she completed a large public art installation for the City of New Orleans along with collaborator Nik Richard, titled “The Spirit of Lower Mid City”. This art walk serves as a commemorative anchor for visitors to learn about the community that once stood in the footprint of University Medical Center.
Monica whole-heartedly believes in the power of art as protest and is focusing on collaborations that amplify the voices of the movement to defend black lives. She is currently running a program called “The Protest Sign Shop”; commissioning and licensing works from local black artists for the production of protest signs. These signs are given out at the actions and rallies in New Orleans as well as donated to local businesses.
The call to create art for social justice has grown louder, and Monica has responded by forming a new non-profit: People for Public Art. The mission is to create, fund, and document works of public art. The first installation created by People for Public Art was “Memorial for Bubba, Quinn, and Jose”, the victims of the collapse of the future Hard Rock building at 1031 Canal St. Learn more at peopleforpublicart.com