“.. art is a self-expression for me, it’s giving a piece of you to the world, expressing something….it’s literally what I did in front of the camera, I expressed something that I wanted to get out… for me it was photography….”

Monya’s sojourn into the world of photography and art has been one of healing and coping with changes at various stages of her life. This mirrors her upbringing in South Africa as an itinerant child and youth, with fond memories of rural life and living in Cape Town. She explained that the downside of always being on the move is the process of starting over and constantly adapting to new surroundings. Now she resides in the metropolis of Johannesburg, where she is continually evolving and upgrading her understanding of herself and the world at large. 

Monya is fascinated with the human condition and humanity more broadly. She believes that a great deal of our character is rooted in our upbringing and that we have the power within us to make the necessary changes to be better people.  Negative thoughts and behaviour do not have to ensnare people in perpetual anxiety and unhappiness.

With her hectic schedule of running a photography business and raising sensible and kind human beings, she is also pursuing a degree in psychology and counselling. This pursuit ties in with her vision of helping others and sharing her insights on how to move on from trauma.  

Overcoming her traumas has been epitomised by her latest photography which speaks to critical turning points in her life and is presented in clear and curated themes. 

Monya’s recollection of how she started Monya Fine Art

“….It was not something I planned, it wasn’t something I always wanted to do. It was literally a coping mechanism…. But one day I went into my studio and I was filled with emotions, I didn’t know what to do with it, and I just got in front of a camera and took photos….” 

As a result of this act of bravery, Monya came up with her first series of photos with the theme: 

Surviving Narcissistic Abuse in 2020 

The conservation veered into the themes that her work addresses and in a nutshell, this is what Monya wants to convey in her photography and art, 

“…. this where I want to go with my art, shit in life happens, pick yourself up, the story I want to sell, there are traumas in life whether it is a small trauma or big trauma…………. there is life after trauma….. Rebuild yourself and be stronger…..”

Shadow Self (2021)

It was interesting to get her thoughts on what art means to her, especially in light of everything she has experienced in recent years,

“.. art is a self-expression for me, it’s giving a piece of you to the world, expressing something….it’s literally what I did in front of the camera, I expressed something that I wanted to get out… for me it was photography….”

Putting oneself out there in dramatic fashion is never easy. People have to be willing to be vulnerable. Monya’s take on vulnerability and learning how to be vulnerable was illuminating,  

“…..Vulnerability is a difficult topic….. If you want to create strong relationships with people in your life, you need to make yourself vulnerable…… But it can also be exceptionally difficult if you keep allowing the wrong people into your life, they tend to misuse that vulnerability against you…. Learn how to be vulnerable with the right people in life…..”

Part of being vulnerable is continually practicing forgiveness of oneself and those who hurt you. For Monya it is a necessary step to move on, 

…. When you go through a difficult time in your life, it is not always easy to forgive…..I think a lot of people misunderstand what forgiveness is…. People think I need to forgive that person because they hurt me and it’s going to make an effect on their life… Forgiveness affects your life…. It’s you saying whether that person deserves my forgiveness or not, I am going to do it, but not for their benefit but my benefit….” 

The conversation found its way wading through love and life, and how Monya has navigated its ups and downs, 

“….. .exploring love at the moment, I have opened myself to it again, but I also firstly think that love starts with accepting yourself. You can’t just expect somebody else to give you something that you cannot give yourself…….”

As the interview draws to a close, it is evident that she is a woman who wants to use her newfound voice to assist women in overcoming the vagaries of abuse and finding ways to cope and make sense of their situations and mental states. Monya is an advocate of people being honest with themselves and taking the time to examine unpleasant aspects of their lives and how they relate to people. 

Art and photography have been Monya’s primary means of expression, but she is slowly starting to warm up to the idea of expressing her thoughts through writing, which is something the AYA Africa team is looking forward to publishing in the not-so-distant future. She also wants to apply her education in practical ways to help people exercise mindfulness and appreciate the small joys and pleasures in life. 

Monya’s parting words of advice: 

“Love starts within and for us to be easy on ourselves.” 

For more information about Monya and her latest creations and writings, please checkout Monya Fine Art’s profile.  

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