8 Visions  •  August 2021  •  Attleboro Arts Museum





Attleboro Arts Museum
86 Park Street, Attleboro, MA




8 Visions Statement

Monica DeSalvo’s recent work explores her late father's dementia by untangling his quotes, deciphering his hallucinations, and preserving his vivid recollections. DeSalvo draws the viewer into her abstracted compositions blended with contour drawings, printmaking, and painting while freely using collage to combine representational and abstract imagery. Through a process of deconstructing, reconstructing, and layering she arrives at images that are both camouflaged and distinguished in surface and depth. Her imagery is interwoven with quiet storytelling, and her use of text is interspersed like sprinkles of thought bridging her monotypes and complex collages.


The seed for this body of work was born at the end of 2017 while DeSalvo was caring for her elderly father who was declining in health and experiencing increasing dementia. DeSalvo says, “Those of us caring for him were very affected by his experiences with dementia—they were our experiences too. His routines and hallucinations were huge parts of our lives.” At nearly 90 and still a force of a human being, the former aeronautical engineer inspired DeSalvo with his poetic word combinations and psychedelic descriptions. DeSalvo started recording and keeping track of what he was saying, and artistic themes began to emerge with his surreal phrases serving as titles or points of departure for the work.


DeSalvo’s work leaped forward after an exercise enlarging strips of collaged monotype fragments and arranging them into graphic configurations. This process created large distorted swaths and a pattern of sectioning off compositions in varying orientations. Her father’s engineering-related paper memorabilia made its way into the work, and working with this combination of mixed media began to fortify her messaging.


For DeSalvo, using her father’s memorabilia as collage elements or as found paper is like performing a duet. This theme allows her to continue investigating and building their relationship. Dementia let DeSalvo uncover an extraordinarily resilient spirit in her father. Through her work, she aims to expose the value and content—whether joyful or haunting—of one’s inner life toward the end of life.

May 25, 2021