20Q: Catching up with art therapist Kristen Monday


Editor's Note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area's arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person's artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.

Kristen Monday

Monday started her own business, Creative Energy Art, in 2010 after her friends asked her to provide art lessons for their children. Word spread, and she now offers a variety of art services including weekly art lessons for children, birthday parties, corks and canvas parties, corporate team building programs and painting fundraisers.

In addition, Monday serves as the weekly art therapist for the Wisconsin Independent Learning College—a school for young adults with autism. She also is contracted by other schools to work with students with special needs through the use of art.

Monday began her career as an elementary art teacher, working for 15 years in an increasingly urban area that serves students from very diverse backgrounds. Seven years ago she accepted a teaching position at UW-Whitewater, and she now is a professor in the school's department of curriculum and instruction.

She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in art education, as well as a master's in curriculum instruction. She also has 21 years of experience in art therapy.

Monday and her husband, Jeremy, who is an elementary school principal at Dousman Elementary, have two boys, 14-year-old Gehrig and 11-year-old Thorpe, a dog, Nike, and three cats, Scribbles Cray and Ola.

To contact Monday, email creativeenergyart@weebly.com.

1. What exactly is an art therapist? An art therapist has two main areas of expertise. The first is using art as a way to strengthen fine motor skills and other physical delays in the hands and arms. Art therapy can be used for a toddler's prewriting skills or for people with special needs who need continuous work with controlling and strengthening the muscles in their hands. The second area is to help calm, motivate or work through an emotional issue, a health issue, trauma or to release anxieties.

2. Have you ever solved a Rubik's Cube? I loved my Rubik's Cube in elementary school. I never did solve it. The best I could do was two sides.

3. Which color best describes your personality? My favorite color is red, but the color that best fits my personality is turquoise … or magenta. Well … hot pink. Actually, sometimes purple. I love black because everything looks good with black. Lime green, maybe. Hmmmm … is glitter a color? Yeah, I'm glitter.

4. If you could paint as well as anyone in history, who would you most emulate? My favorite artist is Kandinsky because of all the bright colors, shapes and lines he used. He has a playful style, and many of his paintings look like he is painting what music looks like. I would love to paint like him.

5. What is your preferred art media? My personal style of art is abstract and colorful. I like to paint with emotion and express whatever I'm feeling at the time. I love combining mixed media into one piece of art. I blend oil pastels with acrylic paint and also use watercolors and colored pencils. Sometimes I weave yarn right into my paintings, and I've even sewn sticks I have spray painted right onto my canvas.

6. What is your favorite board game? Dogopoly. It's just Monopoly with dogs instead of streets. But no game night would be complete without Apples to Apples, right?

7. What convinced you to go into the business you're in? I didn't really need convincing, but timing. It was just time … time to take a risk, time to do what I love, time to work for myself. Everyone should ask themselves this question, “What would I do for a job if I didn't get paid?” My answer is make art and be with kids, so I make art with kids.

8. What is your favorite type of cheese? Are you really asking a girl from Wisconsin her favorite kind of cheese? Any cheese. What cheese isn't good?

9. What was the first art piece you ever created? My mom has my first art piece framed. When I was four, I did a portrait of her. All I wanted to do was color and draw ever since I was small.

10. Is there an artist that, no matter how hard you try, you just can't understand their appeal? In order for me to appreciate an artist's work, I have to like their character. If a person is fake or mean, it automatically turns me off to what they are creating regardless of how talented he or she might be. That's why I don't really like Rembrandt. He mostly did self portraits … hundreds of them. I find him to have a bit of an ego, which turns me off. I like people who are humble and who might not even realize how beautiful their art is.

11. Have any of your students ever created an image that made you cry? Art evokes emotion for me very naturally, but usually it is happiness and not sadness. Even when a student might paint something painful, I still feel good that art was able to get it out of them and give them the ability to communicate what they otherwise could not express with words. I'm just so happy for them to finally find a way to unleash what has been stuck inside them.

12. Quick, what color is a chameleon? Every color!

13. Why is art so important in life? Art is so many things and different for everyone, but what I most love about art is that is crosses every barrier. Everyone can make art. Babies can scribble and make marks, or people with special needs can create even if they are missing a limb. Art crosses over into any group—elderly and young, rich or poor, all abilities, all languages or any IQ. People in every country and from every time in history made art. Art doesn't discriminate. Art is for all.

14. Would you rather be rich and miserable or poor and happy? We've all heard the term “starving artist” right? Typically, artists aren't rich. For me, happiness is an outlook and a choice. Life isn't perfect for anyone. Life can be really, really hard, but I truly believe that good can come out of anything that was once bad. To me, rich is being happy. I don't want to starve, though.

15. In your opinion, the greatest single art piece of all time is: Either Michelangelo's painting of the Sistine Chapel or the Pyramids of Giza. Both of these works of beauty and awe came out of struggle, suffering, determination, genius and oppression.

16. People would be surprised to know: I'm pretty transparent. What you see is what you get. Ask me, and I'll tell you. When it comes to me, people aren't really surprised about much.

17. Where do you think Waldo is? Hiding in a bucket of paint smocks.

18. If you cook/bake, what dish do you consider your specialty? Cook? Ha ha. Bake? Triple ha ha. Umm … no. My specialty is cereal.

19. Share your favorite art joke: What did the mama color wheel say to the baby color wheel? Don't take that tone with me.

20. If you could pick one thing in the world that you could change the color of, what would it be and what color would you use? I would change all anger and sadness to pink swirlies with glitter on top.

Know someone involved in the local arts/entertainment community you think would be a great subject for 20Q? Email kicks Editor Greg Little at glittle@gazettextra.com.

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