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Self-Refraction

‘Quod me nutrit, me destruit’ is a Latin proverb that translates roughly into ‘what nourishes me also destroys me’. It is also what Angelina Jolie has tattooed over her… “upper pelvic region”. True story.

This theme (although sans Angelina Jolie) is explored in fourth-year BFA student Monika Rosen’s exhibition Self-Refraction, on display now in the Union Gallery’s Project Room. Delving into the nature and formation of identity, her work explores the pursuit – and often struggle – of finding clarity in one’s self-perception. She uses water as a symbol of the internal and external influences that can cloud judgment, while light is a symbol of clarity and reality. Therefore, her paintings consist of close up faces that are to varying degrees obscured by water or illuminated by light.

The title of the show, “Self-Refraction”, comes from a play-on-words on ‘self-reflection’ (…Get it?). Self-reflection is an inherent thing that we humans do, but are we always accurate in how we evaluate ourselves as individuals at the end of day? Is there ever a disconnect between how we view ourselves and how we actually behave? These are questions Monika asks of herself and asks us to ponder as well.

Through works with very specific titles, such as “Eisoptrophobia” (fear of your own reflection) and “Hyperopia” (farsightedness), she investigates some of the causes or ‘symptoms’ behind this self-refraction, coming from both observations of herself and of others in her life. For example, in Eisoptrophobia she suggests that an irrational emotion such as fear can often be the driving force behind a denial of reality, whereas Hyperopia is meant as a metaphor of how sometimes things that are closer and personal (i.e. ourselves) are harder to assess. Her works are not meant to be negative, they are meant to meditate on the importance of understanding one’s thoughts and emotions.

Monika Rosen is a fourth year BFA Honours student at Queen’s, born and raised in the suburbs of Thornhill (GTA). She has a minor in Art History, an interest in philosophy and psychology, and a fascination with the world (and universe) around her. In her undergrad, she has attended the Bader Internal Study Center (“the Castle”), and the Venice Summer School. She is a travel junkie and hopes that NASA is one day in dire need of artists.

Her art exhibit is currently on display at the Stauffer Library Union Gallery.

Images by Monika Rosen