Monica Lacey


What are you most proud of professionally?
I’m really proud of being a part of the booming creative community in PEI right now. When I was a kid I imagined there would be so much happening in culture here one day and it feels like we're finally getting there! A new cultural strategy has been released by the government and there’s beginning to be some real recognition of culture as an industry, which means it can start being properly funded, like other industries. It feels like things are changing and it's timely & wonderful. I'm currently on a contract as Program Coordinator for ‘this town is small inc.’, PEI's only artist-run centre. I sat on the board for 3 years and am delighted to be able to help in this new capacity, and to help the organization move into its next phase. There is some momentum happening in the contemporary art scene here now and that's exciting - I'm proud to be a part of it.

I've also been really proud of my photo and video work over the last couple of years. I've been working with some concepts that are related to house/home/family/domesticity, and my personal connection to the work has definitely strengthened it. I've also been collaborating with my husband, Devon Ross, who is a wonderful musician, and I'm very proud of the work we've made together (where I do the visual and he does the audio). More of that to come!

What's your favourite or most read book or podcast? 
Podcast: Creative Pep Talk, it's AMAZING
Music: Hamilton Leithauser, Tibetan Meditation music, Begonia, The War on Drugs, Future Islands, Two Feet, Mura Masa
Reading: I read almost exclusively fiction, short stories and novels. I'm currently reading Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra, and Beatrice & Virgil by Yann Martel. Also have a couple of textbooks on the go to brush up on the fundamentals of lighting for an upcoming photography project.

What are the principles you live by?
My family comes first, always. I've structured my work life so that I can spend decent time with my 3 year-old daughter every day and so that our family gets plenty of quality time all together.

I love bringing people together, being the bridge between two people who can meet each other's needs. So I'm usually the one at the networking thing who is introducing people to each other!

Some other values that are important to me are kindness, enthusiasm, communication, collaboration, community, openness, perseverance, mindfulness, steadiness, awareness, gratitude, compassion, and grace are things that I use to guide my life and choices on a daily basis. I have a daily yoga & meditation practice, so that's a really good place to cultivate these faculties. Regular practice of the qualities I wish to embody and project has been one of the best choices I ever made and helps me overcome and transform any obstacle in my path.

What's your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years? What’s our biggest opportunity now? 
I'd really like to see Atlantic Canada tap into two booming economic engines: culture/creative industries, and the cannabis industry. I also think we could raise the bar for how we treat newcomers and refugees, and increase and diversify our population. Another industry that needs some attention is the film industry - PEI is starting to work on that and hopefully down the road Nova Scotia will reinstate their film tax credit and revive the industry there. I think Atlantic Canada is one of the most beautiful parts of the world, so full of incredible talent, and that we have the potential to become a global hub for culture and creative industries. And the more we're open to change and growth, the more we can actually be ourselves and really shine.

What was your greatest stage of growth? What made it a shift for you? 
I'm in the midst of a growth stage in my career currently. I recently rented my first studio that is outside of my home (I've had home studios for years), and I can already feel the change - the leveling up - that that space will foster. I think there's also a shift happening because my daughter is a little older/more independent, and so I have more mental space for me to focus on myself, my work and career. I think 2018 is going to be a great year!

What have you learned?
One thing I'm really working on at the moment is to find some ease in all I do. I'm often guilty of using an excess of energy for tasks that don't require it, and last year I got burnt out at times because I was pushing too hard/holding things too tightly, so this year it's all about float, rather than swim. Self-care!!

What have you learned about yourself professionally?
I like to have some autonomy when I'm working, but sometimes that can lead to guesswork and arrogance rather than asking for help when I need it. I've learned that it's all about being willing to set your ego aside so that you can be humble and learn from others. It's humility, communication, and collaboration that lead to true confidence.

What would you have done differently?
I would have gone to art school sooner (I went when I was 27). I knew I wanted to go, but I spend a long time being afraid that I couldn't make a career as an artist, and I avoided doing it. It was a waste of time and I wish I had just gotten over that fear sooner.

Who inspires you?
I get a lot of my inspiration from Instagram, mostly other photographers & artists or people curating feeds of artists/artwork. Tahese are some of my top right now:
the Creative Pep Talk podcast feed is so inspiring! @andyjpizza


Artist, Creator, Communicator, Mother, Art Educator, Collaborator, Yogini, Yoga Teacher, Dancer, Musician, Writer, Arts Administrator, Curator, Culture, Social Creature, Life Enthusiast

Monica Lacey