Michelle Mongan is a San Francisco-based artist who creates abstract figurative works on paper including drawings, paintings and printmaking. Her figures have been described by Sasha Chebil of The Daily Californian as “twisted,” "delicate," falling "in undefined lines" and having "limbs that fade into nothingness."
The seeds for Mongan’s artistic future were planted in college. While majoring in accounting, she took a drawing class and found the freedom and creativity that drawing provided to be a liberating gift from the analytical and precise nature of the accounting program. In 2005, after years of working in the accounting field, Mongan returned to art and, again, found it to be a sanctuary of balance in her life. Since 2005, she has been an artist and studied in San Francisco one on one and in small groups with the following brilliant local artists: Felix Macnee (painting and drawing), Peggy Gyulai (drawing), Jeremy Sutton (drawing), Michael Markowitz (drawing), and Katie Gilmartin (printmaking).
In 2012, Mongan ended a successful accounting career and began focusing on endeavors that she describes as being more “soul enriching,” including art, travel and volunteer work. She began publicly exhibiting her work in 2013 during San Francisco’s Fall Open Studios.
After traveling to Cuba in 2013 and 2014 and visiting the Sociedad Gráfica de Cienfuegos, in 2015 Mongan began studying printmaking one on one under the direction of Cuban artist Rafael Cáceres, one of the Founders and the Director of the Sociedad Gráfica de Cienfuegos. She is incredibly humbled and honored by this rare opportunity and has been further honored to return in 2016 and 2017 to continue learning and practicing various printmaking techniques at this workshop, working directly with Cuban artists Alexander Cárdenas and Manuel Quesada.
Mongan's work is influenced, in part, by: her teachers' techniques, da Vinci’s drawings, Matisse’s lines, Schiele’s nudes, van Gogh’s swirls, Renoir’s eyes, Morisot’s warmth, and Kahlo’s pain.
Mongan has donated numerous pieces of her artwork to local non-profit organizations’ fundraising auctions including: Walk SF, The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and Maitri Compassionate Care where she is currently a regular volunteer and also served on the Finance Committee from 2015-2017.
In the short time that Mongan has been exhibiting and selling, she has been honored to have had multiple collectors in Cuba, Iceland, and the United States including:
Dave Himmelblau, Art Collector
Tim Stannard, Founding Director of Bacchus Management Group
Dr. Jeffrey A. Cox
In 2018, Mongan became a member of City Art Cooperative Gallery in San Francisco, CA.
Imago Dei Art Gallery, San Francisco, CA - "Pre-Figured: Bay Area Figurative Artists" (2018)
Galería Federíco Fernández Cavado, Cienfuegos, Cuba - Feria de la Estampa (2017 & 2018)
Artisans of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA (2018)
Alley Cat Books Gallery, San Francisco, CA - Naked Ladies Show (2015)
111 Minna Gallery, San Francisco, CA - Pancakes & Booze Underground Art Show (2015)
My art is created at studios located in San Francisco California and Cienfuegos Cuba typically using live models or based on drawings created with live studio models. My pieces are drawn from an internal, immediate reaction to the posed model that is translated onto paper. The translation is instantaneous, without regard to accuracy or likeness to the model. The result is an abstract reality of the human face and form.
My art often has missing parts, limbs, or features representing my own incompleteness. Distortions demonstrate the beauty in imperfections. Exaggerations exemplify the struggle for truth. Timed poses correlate with the very brief existence that we have on earth.
The human body as a subject for inspiration and creativity resonates profoundly with me in that every day I must examine myself and face my own vulnerabilities. My work represents a practice of stripping away the masks and curtains that are easy to hide behind to know myself better and be comfortable in my own skin.