Our series Girls, Girls, Girls returns with photographer Jody Rogac, this time spending the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Monika Wyndham, a creative and graphic designer that splits her time between upstate New York and the Lower East Side. She recently launched her own jewelry line, Open House Projects, which has later plans to become a residency program for artists downtown seeking a break from the city hustle.
As Monika takes inspirational cues from ancient Egyptian and Byzantine art, we caught up with her to ask her a few questions, and take in some people watching at the museum.
Hey Monika! What inspired you to start Open House Projects?
I started Open House as a way to take back control of my creative output and lifestyle. I've always made things, but have never been in complete control of my projects. I wanted to see what creative autonomy felt like, and so far it has been great!
Open House is starting as a jewelry line, and that's my personal contribution to a bigger idea I have for Open House Projects, which will be an upstate residency and retreat program for artists and designers that are based in New York City. The plan is in its infant stages, but I'm aiming to start the program early next year. The artists and designers who participate will contribute something they've made during their stay to an online retail space.
What influenced your recent collection? What do you think about when you're working on these pieces?
This collection is called "1000 Years Young", and mingles aesthetics of ancient relics and artifacts with more current feeling pieces like the YES signet ring. I was inspired by Egyptian and Byzantine jewelry I saw at the Met on a visit last year. It made me realize that if you make things in metal, you had better make them damn good because they'll last a long long time. That was challenge enough for me, so I started the line.
Are you into the Met?
Yeah. Everything changed when I realized that entry to the Met was by donation. It used to stress me out when I paid full price because I felt like I had to spend hours there seeing everything. Now when I visit I take it easy and wander around, and when I'm over-saturated, I leave.
What is your favorite section of the museum? What are you most into checking out when you're there?
I'm always drawn to the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian art areas. Apart from the exhibitions, I'm really into people watching at the Met. Most folks are so focused in the art that they don't notice you looking at them.
What's your most treasured item?
I have a Wyndham family ring that my dad made for me and all of my siblings before I was born. It's probably my most treasured item because it connects me to my family who are far away. It's a wearable reminder of where I came from, and in some ways it probably helped put me on the creative path I'm on today.
What's your favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon?
These days I'm upstate a lot, so my perfect Saturday would start with coffee and be spent outside messing around in the dirt. I'd then wash off the dirt with a swim in a lake, and drink beers with friends.