Spider House is one of Moni Bell’s pieces on display through July 31 at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas. Photos courtesy of the artist.

July 25, 2016

Dallas artist Moni Bell

A Dallas-based artist contrasts spiritual themes with the excesses of modern life with her use of recycled material.

Moni Bell’s exhibit called Time Along a Wasted Line is showing through July 31 at the Lillian Bradshaw Gallery at J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas. Many of the pieces in the show use a variety of reused, recycled and repurposed materials to tell the story. 

“My newest works are being made from old dish towels, washcloths, handkerchiefs or cloth diapers with watercolor,” Bell explains.

With 35 pieces in the Central Library show, 10 use recyclable and repurposed materials.

Moni Bell.

Bell says she is using more recycled material in her art these days.

“What our first world is doing to the environment is troubling,” she explains. “Plastics, fossil fuel use, mining, mass food production and deforestation are upsetting to the ecosystems that balance our own.”

Dallas artist Moni Bell ShadowsIn a series called Shadows in which Bell repurposed home cloths, she explores the fact that no matter what culture, color or religion people are derived, everyone’s shadows simply show the human form.

“I hope these pieces reflect on the bare essentials we need to survive and how taking care of our planet and each other is good for all,” she adds.

Bell began thinking about her art in terms of using recycled materials when the band she and her husband are in together called Hope in the Other were playing at a Recycle Revolution benefit show a few years ago.

“We were throwing away perfectly good things simply because our apartment building was doing nothing in the way of recycling,” she explains.

It was around that time she decided to take her family’s recycling to one of the local Recycle Revolution’s drop-off stations. She says at that same time she realized, as an artist, that she had to challenge herself to create with a recycling spirit. 

“When I used to work on a piece I would go buy canvas, paint, etc.,” Bell says. “This collection has helped me realize more and more that most of the materials I need in order to create something beautiful are all around me.”

Dallas artist Moni Bell Hung Up

Bell says every piece in the show makes the point that while folks go about their daily lives, the vision for a better planet and a more awakened self is being diminished by the negative side effects of convenience and ignorance.  

Are You Hung Up? by Moni Bell.

For example, her piece Spider House is made of aluminum cans and is about “cramming together in homes made to look immaculate, often made of cheap, unsustainable materials, while destroying all things natural in the process,” she explains.

Large tin cans leftover from tomatoes and beans that fed her family are used in Are You Hung Up, a work that looks at the loss of intimate communication and the power of voice in the digital age.  

The Lillian Bradshaw Gallery at J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas is located on the 4th floor. The Gallery displays the work of local emerging and established artists for the enrichment of library patrons and the community showcasing a new artist every month.

Library associate Rae Pleasant says she likes the way Bell’s work re-imagines everyday objects into new forms.

Pleasant says her favorite piece is Junk Mail in which Bell has made chainmail from oversized beads of compacted junk mail. 

“This bulk material is something many Dallas residents have trashed or recycled nearly every day,” Pleasant says. “[Bell] has made a fluid pattern from something monotonous and repetitive.”   

For Bell, the medium is message, as Marshalll McLuhan once said.

“I can make beautiful things without so much guilt now. I am tired of being part of the problem. I want my work to wake people up to how much we waste, how much we destroy and how asleep we are as a society about it.”

Time Along a Wasted Line

What: An exhibit by Dallas artist Moni Bell

When: Showing through July 31

Where: The Lillian Bradshaw Gallery at J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas.


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