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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Monad Graves Elohim: The Unity and Oneness of All

Aug 30, 2020 01:30PM ● By Teressa J. Hawkins
“Monad” means that which is one, has no parts and is therefore indivisible. These are the fundamental existing things, according to physicist and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. His theory of monads is meant to be a superior alternative to the theory of atoms that was becoming popular in natural philosophy at the time.
   
Monad Graves Elohim is a multidisciplinary artist that embodies his first name by creating his art with the purpose to become consciously aware of the amazing, beautiful life concealed within all things and beings in our daily waking life experience. Elohim has an intense love of nature and a deep appreciation for his worldly experience walking among the beautiful people of the earth. He is so thankful for this short, temporary earth existence because it gives him the opportunity to demonstrate, practice and share his thoughts and actions of love, peace and joy in the world—through the imaginative, creative and original nature of his sculptures.
   
Elohim’s art is a symbolical representation of his inner and outer thought practices that he has eagerly shared with everyone constantly for over 50 years. His work has been fueled by a need to know, a need to learn and a need to grow more spiritually into the awareness of who he is in relation to everyone else. He feels a sense of unity and oneness with all beings and has also learned to trust himself by allowing a natural flow and spontaneity to come through in his work.
   
Elohim is originally from the Chicago area, where he studied art, before settling in Seattle for over 40 years. He has been a Tucson resident for less than three years now. Elohim is centered and balanced and expresses his truth through his art. “My truth embraces being mindful, peaceful and having positive thoughts 24/7,” he explains.
   
He started as a musician first. Jazz improvisation and performing solo work evolved into improvisation and creation of visual art. “Music manifests in different forms,” says Elohim. Eventually, he developed his own voice and path. “My work is solidified music. My sculpture, and my other art creations, are a reflection of my philosophy of life. I see everyone and everything as being connected. I believe that we are one, and everything has an effect on everything else—sort of like a domino effect. We are responsible for each other because we are all a part of each other. I try to express this concept through my creations, using a multiplicity of colors and also making every form connected in some way to another.”
   
He has had extensive teaching experience, mostly in school settings, teaching and creating sculptures in various forms of media including paper mâché, soft fabric sculpture, ceramic sculpture, as well as drumming and dance. Elohim’s teaching background in the state of Washington spanned over 35 years as an artist in residence. He primarily worked with students on paper mâché and ceramic projects. Emphasizing his theme philosophy of “the oneness of all”, he would help the students to create one large paper mâché project that the entire class would work on. Eventually, these would be on permanent display at the schools. He has always enjoyed working with children on art that would provoke wonder, thought and goodness.
   
An extremely accomplished artist, Elohim has had his public art installations featured in various Washington libraries, the Columbia Public Health Center, public school collaborative projects, community centers and some of his larger sculptures are displayed in public parks. Most notable is the Dr. Homer Harris Park Project located on Howell Street, in Seattle. It was a tribute to Dr. Homer Harris (1916-2007), Seattle’s loved and respected athlete and doctor, who was honored in 1989 by the Black Heritage Society of Washington State as a black pioneer in dermatology. The artwork at the park notes the many accomplishments in the life of Harris. Elohim was the lead artist for all the pieces displayed. He fabricated a front entry arch, the Children’s Discovery Area and the creation and installation of five bronze sculptures.
   
Elohim received many accolades for an art installation which was a part of a series titled The Unity and Oneness of All (1992). Funded by a division of the Seattle Arts and Cultural Affairs and displayed in the skylight atrium of the Columbia Public Health Center, this multi-level artwork features colorful, soft sculptural figures that are seen as being connected from a central “mother” figure and other smaller creatures are “her children”, which are suspended from the ceiling. They are connected to each other with strings, hoops and more. Made of artificial fur, upholstery fabric cloth, paper mâché and clay, these figures are very whimsical, colorful, imaginary characters that have both human and animal characteristics. Elohim wanted to convey his concept that we are connected in a web of relationships that reaches out and encompasses everyone. “All the different colors and shapes signify the unity of people—they recognize humanity. These representations show how we’re all connected. We’re all dependent on each other, and we support each other, whether we know it or not,” Elohim says.
   
The mediums with which Elohim likes to work are very diversified. Elohim creates soft art sculptures, sewing with different fabrics and textures, cotton and fake fur. He has always enjoyed creating clothes, and even shoes. Sewing had a learning curve when he first started working with cloth. Elohim also creates his art with different metals, ceramics, clay and wood.
   
A visit to his home studio and garden displays the different mediums and whimsical, colorful creatures he has been working with over the years. Outside, an intriguing brass sculpture with numerous “arms” is actually a fountain that has been a work in progress. “I am always working on a lot of things at the same time,” he says. Currently, Elohim is producing a series of custom gates that are made of steel—his newest medium. “What’s different about gates is their designs reflect beauty, making you want to enter,” he enthuses.
   
Elohim is looking forward to contributing and creating public art for Tucson. “As you get older, you start to lose the desire to create some things,” he says. But recently he has been inspired again to work on new projects. Hopefully, in the future, he would like to have local exhibits of his work and be a part of the artists included in the Open Studio Tours of Tucson.
   
Tucson is a great fit for Elohim. He is grateful to live here and become a part of the local arts community and be able to teach students again. In the words of Louise Nevelson, “Art is the essence of awareness.” Elohim practices this truth in his art.

Connect with Monad Graves Elohim at [email protected], MonadElohim57 on Instagram and Monad Elohim on Facebook.

Teressa J. Hawkins is a freelance writer in Tucson. She is inspired by interviewing fascinating people. Her background is in the arts, communication and education. Connect at [email protected].
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