Julia Monson says that she has been a casual artist throughout her life. It was a practice she picked up while painting with her grandmother as a child.
Monson was diagnosed with Cone Dystrophy disease in her adult years. A genetic disease that effects the cone cells of the retina. Cone cells allow a person to see color and fine detail. Due to the disease “Black makes things disappear,” says Monson, “Fluorescents contrast with vibrant colors making them my favorite to paint with.” Monson wears large black glasses and uses her hands to move along the gallery walls at Siskiyou Arts Museum, while talking with guests about her work.
After being diagnosed, Monson started attending training at the Labor Occupational Health Program at Berkley University, along with other students with eye disorders. She decided to get the training needed as the disease slowly took away her sight. LOHP was great training but “it was rudimentary and technical rather then enriching,” Monson said. So she picked up her paintbrush and started painting more.
Monson says that students involved in LOHP found out Monson was painting and wanted to learn her practice. Monson started meditating on how to teach others how to paint without sight. And although she was still able to see she now had students that could not. That is when Julia Monson decided to go on “The Journey of Going Blind.”
She started covering her eyes with a blindfold. Using wax, she drips the substance onto canvas and with her fingers uses the wax to draw lines. From there comes in other forms of mixed media. “Very much like braille,” says Monson.