We had the good fortune of connecting with Monica Curiel and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Monica, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I would say that I was raised to be an entrepreneur. My father immigrated to the U.S. without a higher-level education and has been the embodiment of someone who has attained and pursued the American dream. I grew up working alongside my parents, who are day laborers. I think when you’re exposed to that kind of environment at an early age you organically become instilled with a certain work ethic. Having accompanied my parents in both of their jobs, I realized early on, I wanted to work smarter, so it was important for me to receive higher education. I did not want to pursue the harsh environments my parents were exposed to.

The earliest memory I have of being entrepreneurial is third grade. I was making diaries out of notebook paper, stapling them together and decorating them with my drawings, then selling them to my classmates for 10 cents. It came to an abrupt stop when my teacher found out about them. When I got home that day from school, I had to confess to my parents why I had gotten in trouble that day. My father’s reaction was a proud grin and a loud chuckle but he didn’t say a word.

My undergraduate studies took a total of 8 years to complete, I worked in various jobs and quickly learned both what I wanted and did not want to pursue in my career. During the early stages of the pandemic, I was living in a less-than-desirable apartment, I started creating art pieces for my space and environment, attempting to elevate it somehow, and that’s when I decided to pursue this full-time. When I decided to build my business, it was important for me to establish the why. Each piece is a meditation on where I come from, rooted in my desire to both celebrate and elevate my heritage as a Mexican American woman. This is the core of both my business and my art.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My journey into abstraction began during my last two semesters of my BFA. I took formal painting courses, one of which was an independent study – meaning, I was able to make work in a style and subject of painting that I desired. During my independent study, I decided to work through abstraction. I was initially drawn to abstraction because I felt like it was a style which was easier for me to understand and it evoked in me an emotion that no other style of painting had done. I realized early on in my studies that I was not the most talented or experienced painter in the room, admittedly, I felt amature using oil paints while attempting to render realistically. However, when I began using construction materials I began to feel a deep connection to my work. It organically became my preferred medium to work with. I graduated from the University of Kansas in 2021 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and that’s when I began to pursue this full-time.

I don’t think starting a business is ever easy, as a business owner you need to be willing to adapt and learn constantly. However, because of my background and my own experiences, I feel I do have good instincts when it comes to running my business. There are many challenges I face daily, but I try to approach them with a solution or learning-based thinking. I say to myself “how can I learn from this challenge, how can I improve?”

I believe representation matters. Within both my art and business, I aim to elevate those who come from similar backgrounds as myself, first-generation Americans, with humble backgrounds. I want to show latina/x women that it’s possible to be a successful artist no matter one’s background.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was visiting the area and I wanted to show them the best time, I would start the day by taking them out for coffee at Aviano Coffee in Cherry Creek. Depending on the time of year, I would then take them to Denver Botanic Gardens, have some brunch at Local Jones then stop by my favorite museum in Denver’s golden triangle, Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art followed by the Clyfford Still Museum. For dinner eat at Urban Farmer Denver located in the Oxford Hotel. On the weekend, take a hike in Estes Park, and the following day, I would plan to see a concert at Red Rocks or the Bluebird Theater.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout to my parents, Jose Ramon + Maria Curiel for allowing me to know and inherit the culture, language, and traditions of their Mexico.

Website: https://monicacuriel.art/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/monicacuriel.art/

Image Credits
Photography: Mber Creative Studio Space: Meno Home Studios

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.