Monica Bryant was born in Kansas and received her BA in Art from the University of Hawaii and an MFA from UC Berkeley. In 2004 she was awarded a fellowship at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York. Bryant is a credentialed Art Teacher who chaired the Art Department at Ursuline High School in Santa Rosa, CA for nine years. After Ursuline closed in 2011, she instructed drawing and color theory at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in San Francisco and other colleges and schools. She has exhibited work throughout the U.S. and in Singapore.
During the first week of March in 2020 I had the good fortune to travel to Marrakech, Morocco for an artist retreat with a small group of women artists. The awareness of a worldwide corona virus pandemic was growing. I set worries aside and went. It was the best trip of my life. I was so moved by the life of the place. Donkeys, bicycles, motorcycles, men in kaftans, women in headscarves, children playing and markets full of colorful handmade products! I loved walking the passageways of the Medina with my new friends. Having looked at artists work (Matisse, Yves St. Laurent, Delacroix) inspired by Morocco for most of my life, it was awesome to see their inspiration. Seeing the tiles up close, the handmade chipping and cutting was evident. The doors within doors of our riad delighted me. Seeing mint tea poured from a pot high above its cup by our kind staff was so touching. I enjoyed hearing the call to prayer throughout the day and at sunset. I will never forget the ecstasy of smelling the orange blossoms in a beautiful courtyard. I wanted to be able to take a picture of the fragrance to send home to family and friends.
When I returned to California, I isolated myself because of my trip and before the two weeks of isolation was over the whole state went into shelter in place. The beautiful memories of Marrakech lingered like perfume. I had my studio to work in and I was very happy to work with paint and photographs reminding me of what I experienced. It was really a brief week and I have only a tourist’s understanding of the ancient culture I visited, but I have such love of the place. I am fortunate I can create mementos of my experience.