UC Davis student artist uses paintings to communicate emotions
Although art has always been her calling, Sammy Sanchez-Monter, a third-year art studio major, was in denial at the beginning of her college career.
“My whole life I’ve been doing art, and initially coming into Davis I was an animal science major and then I switched to a animal biology major, and after taking some classes I wasn’t happy and even my parents would ask me ‘what are you doing, you should be an art major,’” Sanchez-Monter said.
After her second quarter at UC Davis, she switched to an art studio major and immediately noticed a difference.
“I was completely happy and my mood totally shifted, I was excited all over again, so that’s how I knew I should do art […] it was the best choice ever,” Sanchez-Monter said.
In addition to exploring her passion, Sanchez-Monter has developed a strong bond with other art studio majors.
“I’ve never experienced this much community within a major,” Sanchez-Monter said. “[In other majors] there’s that sense of competition but in our major everybody helps each other out even if you don’t ask for help, people give you suggestions on how to be better, and I noticed that community as soon as I made that switch.”
For Sanchez-Monter, painting has always been her primary medium, and she enjoys using vivid colors in her creations.
“I like painting because of the blending aspect of it, and you can make so many colors, the possibilities are endless for me and you can quickly make changes,” Sanchez-Monter said.
Sanchez-Monter has found inspiration from Frida Kahlo and often takes influence from her dreamlike style.
“I really like her not only for the work she does, but because she was very ahead of her time in that she didn’t conform to what people expected out of female artists,” Sanchez-Monter said. “She set her mind to doing something and she would do it no matter what other artists thought. I think that’s something I need to work on in my pieces — not caring what others think. It was amazing seeing her express herself no matter where she was, she painted whatever she wanted.”
Sometimes Sanchez-Monter feels that her realistic style can be frustrating and never feels like her work is complete.
“My art style is very realistic especially with my paintings, I’m still working on it because sometimes I kind of tend to be a perfectionist, but I’m working on that and expanding my technique in being more gestural with my brush strokes or being more free with the energy that I put into my work,” Sanchez-Monter said.
Sanchez-Monter feels that art acts as a diary without words and utilizes it to convey her emotions or stresses she faces.
“I can spend hours painting and forget other things are important too like eating or going to the bathroom,” Sanchez-Monter said. “When I paint I think about things but in a new perspective. In the end I feel very relaxed.”
Even though Sanchez-Monter is very open in her art, she is constantly pushing herself to be more vulnerable.
“My style overall has evolved in that it is more serious, and especially this year I’ve told myself I want to make my pieces more vulnerable and raw and not hold back,” Sanchez-Monter said.
Sanchez-Monter’s connection to art goes beyond the canvas as she finds her work to be very therapeutic. Although she often shares her artwork with her friends to get their opinions, she keeps some pieces to herself.
“In my free time I paint or draw for myself because of the emotional release I get. I can choose to share it and most pieces I create I do show my friends and some I just keep personal and I don’t feel the need to share it, it’s just for me kind of a time-lapse,” Sanchez-Monter said.
In the summer of 2016, Sanchez-Monter was invited by a family friend to paint a mural at a Larson Park elementary school, which had been experiencing many problems with graffiti and tagging.
“Even as I was painting people would come up to me and say ‘it’s going to get tagged eventually,’ but I’d also get like ‘oh it’s so beautiful’ so it was very conflicting,” Sanchez-Monter said.
The mural was revealed at a local festival and Sanchez-Monter left part of the mural blank so the youth could help her paint the last part to complete it.
“It was really cute, everyone was taking pictures and I went back recently and it hasn’t been tagged so people appreciated it,” Sanchez-Monter said. “I was really happy about that, it was my first mural and I went back and it was spotless still, it was definitely my biggest accomplishment.”
In the future, Sanchez-Monter would love to make art full-time but plans to be an art professor due to the influence and inspiration she has received from some of her professors at UC Davis.
“I’ve talked to my professors and just seeing how passionate they are has inspired me to pursue the art professor pathway,” Sanchez-Monter said. “But if I could be an artist and just do that, that’d be the dream.”
Written by: Abigail Wang — email@example.com