Brittany Moná’s Resistance in Relaxation and Joy is currently on view in the Digital Window Exhibition space at Phillips@THEARC as part of the Digital Intersections series. The Phillips Collection Fellow Arianna Adade met with the artist to talk about her practice.
In the corner of Brittany Moná’s bedroom rests an altar where she asks for guidance from her ancestors and allows her inspiration to flow intuitively; it is in that same corner where her art truly comes to life. Focusing on abstraction and themes of the Black diaspora as a multidisciplinary artist, Moná’s works primarily consist of a wood medium, but she also integrates photography, canvas paintings, and digital artwork.
As a DMV native, Brittany Moná (Moh-Nay) has had exposure to the intersections of art and culture from a very young age. Growing up, her family kept her deeply involved in the arts. Attending a visual arts high school, Moná had a strong passion for acting and pursued it throughout her adolescence. As an aspiring actress, she was also an early childhood educator, spending much of her time teaching young children through art and museum practices. From 2018 to 2022, Moná briefly dabbled in portrait photography which she still enjoys. However, in the midst of the pandemic, when the world stood still and many felt their careers and passions shift, Moná’s interest in painting blossomed. She channeled her feelings into experimental art and soon enough, her students became a source of inspiration.
The fundamental elements of her personhood and individuality play a vital role in the emotions Brittany Moná constructs in her works. My Brother’s Keeper draws inspiration from her brother and other young Black men in her community. It mirrors the interconnections among Black men, highlighting the collective responsibility within the community to uplift one another through empowerment and guidance. By blending the essence of grandmotherly figures within the Black community—who embody wisdom, discipline, love, and connection to ancestral roots—she pays homage to Black artists who have paved the way for today’s generation to occupy space in conventional art realms.
But, most importantly, her artwork embodies the childlike wonder and innocence children hold, when they are unrestricted in their creative state and free from the influence of the outside world. With her teaching background intertwined with art, Moná believes that children are receptive to learning and have the capacity to understand a multitude of subjects and complexities when given the space and patience to learn. As a Black educator, she wanted her students to find proper representations in art, which is something the museum world still struggles with. She makes this her mission, often thinking of her students throughout the process: “Kids can be the biggest influence.”