Painting as Language



Matthew Monk: “Painting as Language”
at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, Vermont, USA
6 November 2017-20 January 2018

Matthew Monk, who is also a founding faculty member with the College’s MFA in Graphic Design program, worked on the exhibition from May to October 2017, a period that began with an artist residency at the Vermont Studio Centre in Johnson and concluded with a three-month sabbatical.

“My work explores ideas related to painting as a recombinant language system, specifically as it addresses relationships between parts and wholes. Different elements of the work might be seen as letters combined into words, words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into stories. Various groupings within this work might be seen as using distinct vocabularies or syntaxes, yet each grouping can be seen as emanating from a singular voice,” explains Monk.

Monk often works with discarded or found materials, which are often decayed, worn, eroded, weathered, murky, humble, and imperfect. He seeks to “uncover meaning in the meaningless and value in the worthless.”

“My work is the result of cumulative layers of additive and subtractive processes including painting, gluing, scraping, sanding, tearing, erasing, correcting and patching. A rich and complex history of each piece is rendered evident through its accretion of these unexpected materials and varied processes,” added Monk.

Prior to arriving at VCFA, Monk taught for 20 years at the Rhode Island School of Design. He exhibits his collage and mixed media works extensively and his work is in collections across the U.S. and abroad. His book design practice has earned numerous awards for clients including the National Gallery of Art, Yale University Press, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Metropolis Books, The Museum of Art at Rhode Island School of Design, and Wellesley College, among others.

(adapted from the venue’s press materials)


College Hall Gallery
Vermont College of Fine Arts
35 College Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602 USA
(866) 934-8232

Contact VCFA for more information


untitled diptych
by Matthew Monk
collage/mixed media on panel
Courtesy of the artist