Alisha Monypenny is a painter, creative writer, and trained art therapist. We met as Artists-in-Residence at Flux Factory where I always admired her outrageous and at times overwhelming presence and excitement. She is currently on an open-ended traveling journey across the world — definitely follow her journey on Instagram for super insightful thoughts and images on making each day valuable.
I love her ideas about being fully yourself, and using the internet to connect more authentically in real life. I’m inspired by the way she is making art without limitations, no matter where she is and with whatever emotions or materials she has available.
I wasn’t thoughtful about why I was making the choices I was making. Before, every choice I made was within the narrative of what I knew to be possible. I wanted to be married and own a house because I grew up seeing other people want that. So that’s the main difference now — designing my life being mindful of the fact that I can want different things, things that are more authentic to me instead of what everyone else wants.
How do you know what you want?
I seek the things that I need in that moment. Sometimes it comes down to these basic things — I want a shower, I want a sandwich — and then more of my brain-space can take care of other needs, like contributing to the world or being fulfilled emotionally. I have tried to let go of expectations that I need to be future focused at all.
I feel like I’ve been so future focused but not in a positive way, but in a fear way – I’ve got to get this right.
Another thing I’ve realized: even just the concept of having to be anything, why do I have to accomplish something today? Of course if it nourishes me, or makes me feel that I’m contributing to something, or exercising my intellect, or being creative — those are the reasons why I want to accomplish something, because my soul needs to make something, not because I have to fulfill a quota to feel good about myself.
My favorite prompt of yours is “If you stripped away all your fears, what would you do/create?” I don’t think our brains are designed to think about that question! I think our brains are designed to worry about scarcity and limitations and how to work within limitations. You don’t know what to do with the prospect of abundance and freedom. So much of our time is just spent responding to obstacles.
If I didn’t have a lot of fear, I see myself engaged with other people. It’s funny because a lot of my art in the past has been very solitary. That was very self imposed, and now I’m in a place in my life where I want to invite people in — or even invite myself out! I think a lot of the things I would create would be less object/image based.
So you think if you stripped away all your fears you would be making more social art?
I like the idea of crafting experiences, blurring lines between living and making. Maybe I’ll start a band that lives in a bus.
Is it that living/making connection?
Yeah that really appeals to me. Not turning off art/creative time, having everything be this overflowing energetic, but somehow balanced, thing.
I’m also trying to think about balance — how that can be sexy and exciting. I’m prone to excess — anxiety or excitement– and I think I want to be like, “let’s just imagine really sexy, compelling, exciting, BALANCE.” It’s hard to get excited about “MODERATION! HEALTHY MODERATION!” but I think that’s actually the key to having a sustained life of making.
I think something that has always drawn me to you is the way you are very out there — just being yourself on loudspeaker almost. A lot of people are like “I can’t be myself, I’ll suppress that,” which I always try to avoid, but you’re right it goes both ways. I’ve always been someone who’s loud and I thought that’s ok, that’s just me, but it suppresses people around me — when I’m too much or too in your face or whatever.
And I think in the past being ‘excessively yourself’ has been my way in the past of combating this ‘threshold to be your authentic self’. I want to be authentic in a way that’s like a blooming flower instead of a motorcycle jumping over a canyon of cars. There are so many valid ways to be authentic. There are some that are going to make a fuller harvest for everyone.
How are you exploring that?
Traveling has made me realize I’m really interested in cultivating relationships. I’ve been trying to connect in the real world and also digitally. Following other people that are traveling where I am on Instagram, and then asking them to co-work together at a coffee shop I saw they posted. The internet makes it a little bit easier to do that: transition a very a fleeting interaction into getting to know each other. Or maybe this is so stalker-y and weird!?
No I think it’s actually very specific and proactive, using the tools to find people in real life. I feel like I use social media mostly as a broadcast…
The internet is a way into someone’s internal world, a way to connect with them. I used to poo-poo social media and I would scold myself for caring for something so superficial. But then I realized it doesn’t have to be superficial, it doesn’t have to be anything. Those interactions are what you make of them.
Sometimes we go into consume mode and that can leave you feeling empty — it’s the same effect as watching 10 hours of Netflix. But if you have dialogue and put something out there, then it feels less like you just gorged on junk.
I think that if I am my authentic self, and invite others to be theirs, it’ll pay off in the long run.