SAN BENITO — The San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum will host an opening reception for its latest exhibit called “Sacred Wisdom,” which was created by artist Jessica Monroe, 35, from Edinburg.
The reception will be held Thursday, Oct. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. and the exhibit will be on display at the museum until Nov. 27.
Featuring native plants and animals of the Rio Grande Valley, Monroe’s contemporary realism styled exhibit is comprised of many large-scale oil paintings created on linen canvas, graphite and charcoal drawings on paper and watercolor pieces.
“The images reflect my experiences exploring ranches, nature centers and my childhood love for this land,” Monroe explained.
Monroe says she began taking art lessons when she was 6 years old.
And by the time she turned 13, she knew she wanted to turn her hobby into a full-fledged career.
“As an artist, you have to kind of try to figure out what it is that you’re going to make art about and it was hard trying to figure that out,” Monroe said. “But what I really came back to was my love for being outdoors.”
She said the center-point of her exhibit is a large 900-year-old Montezuma Bald Cypress she’s visited several times that grows in Abram, Texas.
“Like many people, I tend to see the world as it relates to my own experiences, goals and needs,” she said. “But perceptions change when I consider my life and community as just a blip along this tree’s massive timeline.”
Monroe said due to centuries of human intervention, the tree’s home has radically transformed since it was a sapling along the banks of the Rio Grande.
“Instead of a neighboring river, the tree now sees a border wall and 97 percent of native habitat lost to agriculture and development,” she added.
City of San Benito Cultural Arts Director Luis Contreras said Monroe’s’ work not only serves as a form of activism but is a promotion of the importance of preserving natural vegetation.
He believes through her work, she is also a historian in her own right because she’s documenting.
“Who knows what the Rio Grande Valley will look like in a century or even 20 years,” he said. “But she does an excellent job in documenting the vegetation of South Texas and she does it beautifully through her work.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
• Jessica Monroe, 35, has exhibited her work throughout Texas and has taught art to students of all ages for more than 15 years.
• She received a Bachelor of Arts from Southwestern University.
• She also studied painting at New York University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
IF YOU GO
WHAT — Opening Reception for “Sacred Wisdom” Exhibit
WHEN — Thursday, Oct. 17 from 6 to 8 p.m.
EXHIBIT RUNS — Oct. 17 through Nov. 27
WHERE — San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum, 250 East Heywood Street
COST — Free
ARTIST — Edinburg resident Jessica Monroe
For more information, call (956) 281-0810.