For many First-Year Seminar students, the first topic study—Self and Community—culminates in some kind of self-portrait. These projects tend to depict the array of roles they assume in the course of their daily lives or a laundry list of their diverse and sometimes-dueling character traits. Kacie Monroe, however, strove to reconcile her past and her present. She took the courageous step of examining a painful childhood, one that she had long preferred to keep hidden, and not only accepting but also embracing it. She ultimately reclaims her memories and places them in a keepsake book where she can draw upon them any time. She calls it “A Child’s History.”
Kacie was inspired by Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, the story of an Iranian girl, Marji, who grew up amid political, cultural and religious upheaval. She came to understand that a past, even an unhappy one, helps create one’s identity and is perhaps necessary to do so. She decided she was ready to stare down her own story. With that insight, Kacie created an altered book. She started with an antique hardcover copy of Charles Dickens’ A Child’s History of England as her canvas, in part because her extended family hails from there.
Then she manipulated its cover and pages with ink, paint, photographs and glue to make it about her. Some pages are blackened except for certain words to form significant phrases such as “it was very lonely” and “they were determined.” Other pages are painted white to become backdrops for her drawings and sentiments. “Accept me for who I am,” she writes on one. Another bears a letter to her late father about the difficulty she has moving forward. She does not offer explicit details, but she doesn’t have to. Instead, her pens and brushes wash the book in emotion. They say it all.
“Negativity should not be forgotten,” Kacie concludes. “In the end, it really does shape us.”
FYS Instructor Pam McKuen
Kacie Monroe, a Wisconsin native, is a Fine Arts student attending Columbia College Chicago. Her passion is to explore the connection between fantasies and reality. She invites her viewers to escape actuality and explore their own emotions and memories by using a variety of different media to create ethereal, dream-like images.