Spotlight on Seniors: Vivian Monteiro ’23’s Art Shines in Debut Solo Exhibition

By Mirabella Miller ’24

Portrait of Vivian Monteiro '23 with her ceramic art

For Vivian Monteiro ’23, an art and media studies dual major, making and sharing art has always been an invaluable creative outlet. Mentors such as her artist grandmother, oil painter Aimee Erickson, Professor of Art Nancy Macko, and Assistant Professor of Art Alyson Ogasian have encouraged her interest and shown her the possibilities of a future in the arts. Years of practice recently culminated in an accomplishment Monteiro did not expect to achieve so early in her artistic career: her first solo exhibition.

“I feel so grateful to have been able to have my first solo exhibition while still in college—that’s a rare experience,” she says.

The exhibition, titled Extensible by curator Julia Hong, a student in the MFA program at Claremont Graduate University, was on display at Harvey Mudd College’s Sprague Gallery from January 23 to February 10. Many works focus on the female body: how it grows, changes, and is perceived by the world. As Hong writes in her curatorial statement, “Monteiro’s works are often depictions of life and do not end in the stillness of the form. In the selected works, each body lives, changes, and thus extends beyond the fixed image and position that contain its life; and it invites thoughts on what living, changing, and being extensible might require which are both the risk and the force of living.”

A testament to the technical skill and artistic vision Monteiro has developed through her time at Scripps, the exhibition consisted of four ceramic sculptures and six drawings created over her four years here.

“The sculptures were made in ceramic classes, but the drawings are works I made in my own time and are something I engage in whenever I feel something that I can’t quite describe but need to express,” she says.

Since the close of her exhibition, Monteiro has been hard at work finishing her thesis project, which will be on display at the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, along with other art majors’ theses, starting April 28. Monteiro completed the first part of the project last semester—12 digital paintings that bring the landscapes, characters, and costumes from The Blazing World, a novel by 17th-century British author Margaret Cavendish, to life.

“I loved this project but found working with someone else’s world to be limiting,” she says. “This semester, I decided to continue the project with a world and narrative from my own imagination instead.”

Inspiration for her thesis began in a media studies course about worldbuilding taught by Visiting Lecturer in Art Vivian Charlesworth. In worldbuilding, students discover how art from animations, video games, and films help viewers and players get a sense of the visual aspects of a particular world. Beyond inspiring her thesis, the class encouraged Monteiro’s growing interest in digital art and also helped hone her career ambitions.

“I’d love to be a visual development artist for the animation industry in Los Angeles and continue making illustrations and background paintings,” she says. “I will be happy if I find a career where I get to make art every day.”

On campus, the Williamson Gallery has been instrumental in connecting Monteiro with the art community at Scripps and elsewhere. She has had the opportunity to participate in two paid internships at the College’s renowned gallery.

“Through the gallery, I’ve gained curatorial experience and met some incredible artists and professionals working in the arts,” she explains.

Monteiro is equipped with hands-on skills and industry connections to pursue a career in the arts. But her time at Scripps has also provided her with a wealth of non-art-specific proficiencies that she is excited to take with her into the future.

“I’ve learned how to think critically about my surroundings and the information that is presented to me, which I think is a valuable skill for all aspects of life,” she says. “I’ve also gained a more comfortable familiarity with myself, and an understanding of my strengths, and how I can apply them to the world around me.”