Cultural Art by AWARE Staff Member Promotes Awareness
Updated: Mar 9
Therapist by trade and artist by night, AWARE clinician Monica Gilles-Brings Yellow’s artwork will be displayed as part of the Allez! outdoor art gallery display at 120 N. Higgins in Missoula starting mid-March. The display will be in the alley.
Monica applied to create a new piece of artwork for the gallery’s rotating three-month display. It’ll appear alongside seven other local artists creating to the prompt, “Witness.”
The name of her artwork to be displayed is called, “Songs From Time Immemorial,” which is a 3-D mixed-media art form.
She began generating her current style a couple years ago. But Monica says she’s always loved to create. She took art classes in high school and college and regularly has a sketchbook by her side.
Click below to find a gallery of Monica's work
Her paintings portray people who are Native American and usually include black and white printed photos of friends or relatives with a colorful background that highlights the photos.
Monica’s goal is to tell a story. She said that Western art can be exploitative and is also often created by non-Indian artists.
She is passionate about researching their stories and connecting with people who may have known her subjects. She regularly looks through photos at library archives to find connections.
She learned how to make the colorful backgrounds by staying up late at night watching different YouTube videos.
Monica continuously experiments with different paint mediums to come up with her signature backgrounds. Gold leaf or gold paint are almost always part of her designs.
To ensure the artwork displayed at Allez! holds up in the outdoor elements, Monica set her painting in a special resin that holds up on canvas.
Monica’s passion is part of her life work
Monica has worked at AWARE as a treatment service technician, program manager, and now, a clinician. She graduated from Walla Walla University in 2020.
She became a therapist because she wanted give back to the community – especially to people of a diverse population.
“I was already working in the mental health field, and I thought I would be good at it,” Monica said.
Monica is particularly passionate about helping kids remo
ved from their culture transition into the community. She ensures their treatment plans are culturally appropriate.
For example, she often connects children who are Native American with people from their culture. She helps them make friends and take part in social activities such as attending powwows and learning to make drums or ribbon shirts.
Monica says she also connects with the kids through art. Often they ask her for supplies. Her office walls feature drawings and paintings created by the kids she treats.
“I want them to have social connections and be someone around who understands,” she said.
AWARE is lucky to have Monica on the team!
To learn more about the services AWARE provides, please go to our website at https://www.aware-inc.org/what-we-do.
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