The Monolith is a short film directed by Angelo J. Guglielmo, Jr. about an artist in New York City who uses the skyline view as a source of inspiration for painting the world around her each day. When construction threatens to hamper with this artistic freedom, she explores the change with her brush instead of rebelling. The film overall shows the expansive nature of art, how it’s ever changing and how there is an authenticity to respecting that change and letting it inform what we create. Art reflects the time we live in and it showcases our environment and the world is always evolving into something else. It’s a project without end.
First off, I love that the film started with her saying “I procrastinate.” Procrastination happens with everyone in the world, but some are better at dealing with it than others. For myself, I procrastinate a lot with my artwork as well. Though it’s not a good thing to miss deadlines or to extend a project and become lazy, sometimes more time is essential to a piece. I feel that every piece of artwork has its own story and once it’s created, it’s saying something to the world. At times, it needs some change and more time to speak and the artist can’t see that right away until they’re forced to experience change for themselves. That is basically what happened in this film.
The artist, Gwyneth Leech, describes the skyline in such breathtaking detail. She says that walking through New York can be so dirty and then she sees the buildings and it’s just this burst of color. “Looking out on this incredible panorama of Midtown Manhattan with spires rising, the kind of triangular composition…parts of these buildings were reflected in other buildings and the clouds coming across. It was different every single day… That sky, it kind of transcended the confines of the city.” It’s interesting to look at the city in that respect, as something that is confining at times. The architecture of NYC is exquisite, but because it is a fast moving city, it can feel claustrophobic and contained. For example, when walking down the street, I run into people all the time. Our bodies just kind of brush against each other while we’re all in a rush to get to our different destinations.
I love when she talked about the coffee cups and painting the different perspectives of the skyline view on them each day. It’s such an interesting process to hear about and then to actually see pieces of her work was a treat. Taking those little paintings on the cups and turning them into one whole exhibit was inspiring. It absolutely captures the spirit of seizing the moment and creating something out of pure spontaneity and adventure.
When the construction started, she wanted to leave. However, she said “I’m actually going to stay with the determination to experience the transformation.” I adore this quote because she is expressing exactly why I create as an artist. Perhaps it is why most artists create. It’s about asserting a voice, but also about living and expressing the experience of living in your world. Everyone’s world is different and the way we live it and experience it is different. So, all of our art that we put out there is going to be different.
She talks about the workers at the construction site and what she conveys through words and pictures of her paintings is that the site is full of movement. This is a real, mobile art ripe with energy and colors and patterns. So, in many ways, this site is representative of New York City. It captures why she loves it.
Gwyneth’s artwork is absolutely stunning. She has a very specific style and I am just mesmerized by her ability to adapt to changes as an artist. She uses every shift as an opportunity, as a resource for an authentic creation. The paintings of the workers had these marvelous colors of green and orange on them. The strokes were soft but there was an edge to them as well. I like how the graphics used in this film prepared a visually stunning experience to see the paintings change and move. It gave more life to her work.
I really related to this film as an artist and a New Yorker and as someone who often tries to fight change. Instead of flowing with the time and living in the moment of something amazing, I pause. I reflect and overthink. That can be an obstacle for creativity to develop because it takes away the unpredictability factor. It was an imaginative film that documented this woman’s achievements as an artist, but more importantly as a person brave enough to immerse themselves into the change in their world.