Monica Helen Muriglan
Monica Helen Muriglan is a Painter and Landscape Installation artist. After living and working in NYC for the last 20 yrs, she has recently relocated to Los Angeles, with the intention of continuing the 1776 Photographic Series expanding into 3D Sculpture and various art forms.
Presented here in photographic form, the Landscape Installation series are created on location all over the United States. The first Landscape Installation began back in 2002 and has developed slowly and organically over the years. The Summer of 2011 marks the first time any of the Stories have appeared 'publicly'.
In October of 2011, The first Landscape Installation Series that would come to be known as 'Project 1776' began at a secret location along the shores of southern New Jersey. The 'Flight of the Falconers' Series was the first of many that would take place on the East Coast Revolutionary War lands, the ancient estuaries of the Lenape people. More recently, the Project 1776 series traveled far to the lands of Kauai and Oahu; in the near future, Maui. Barbados is in the works as well as the planning stages of a few more 'hidden' mainland locations.
The Photos presented are 'Stills' taken from Landscape Installation Series created between 2003-2016. The Stories have been inspired by our present world, within the archaeology & astronomy of our ancient myths, legends & histories. Each Installation builds on the previous, with characters interacting and often moving between different landscapes.
As with all true myths, there is no end and no beginning. There is only the Story. Within the interweaving of the mysteries, worlds of possibility open up. As each myth crosses over to the next, this interaction or cross section produces new realities. It is a glance towards the future unfolding - to a place unknown and ever changing.
Each Landscape Installation was created on location and in transit. Each Story is made up of many hundreds of stills and here you will find a small selection of images. The Photo stills stand as individual artworks but the final pieces are considered in their entirety as groups of Photo Installation, Painting, Large Scale Sculpture and Video.
What is in a Name? Muriglan.
Origin: Ancient Spiritual Celtic Hungarian (30,000 - 30 BCE) Meaning: 'The point of passage & journey / the connection between two mountains. Mainly: the journey between these two mountains, place of journey in between. It is both a noun and a verb. You are simultaneously part of the connection, the Bridge, but more importantly, through your passage you become the Connector.
Original Hungarian Runic Language, linguistic relationship to both ancient Sanskrit and Sumerian cuneiform.
Monica Helen Muriglan is a first generation born American of Hungarian heritage. Since childhood she has been fascinated by and drawn to all cultures and religions always in search of that elusive common thread, that bond that unifies us all. She grew up spending her summers in the far reaches of eastern East Europe early 1980s, during the culmination of the most intense political and religious times of 20th century Europe. While she felt most at home there it could never be her home; to them, whose blood she shared, she was ‘an American.’ By the time Monica was in high school she came to the realization that she was neither fully Hungarian nor truly American. This lack of belonging set her off on an extraordinary path of world discovery that continues to this day.
As she dug deeper into her family’s history, in the hopes of discovering one piece that would connect her to the feeling in her heart, she was met over and over with more questions and an even bigger mystery. Her family’s part of the world was once considered the 'Center of the Universe.’ One would never know it now but 1000 years ago, under the Hungarian Kingdom, the city of her mother’s birth was known as ‘the Crossroads’. Leaders from all nations east, west, north, south met there, the Knights, Kings and Emperors, it was the center of politics, trade and the deepest alchemical mystical knowledge. Prior to that it was what has come to be called the Hallstat Culture, a highly artistic spiritual group of people, Celtic Hungarians, with some of the oldest known artifacts containing symbols and reflections that connect the most ancient far reaching cultures to the present day.
Still, none of this information answered that question of ‘Yes, but where do I belong?’ If anything, it further embedded that insistence on an answer. Not one the history books presented, but one that made sense to her heart. As she grew up within this question, she naturally began to ask as a continuation ‘Where does everyone belong, where did everyone originate?’ It is not lost on Monica that it is a luxury to be able to even contemplate such a question, and in her adulthood she greets each day thankful that her basic needs of survival have always been met.
In the Beginning:
At 12 years of age, Monica began to actively question her mother about religion. the true history. not what she was being taught, but what really happened. Her mother, a very religious woman, was at a loss of how to contain the situation. Not realizing the seriousness of the inquiry, she went the “Because I said so” route. Luckily for Monica, while it was long before the age of computers, let alone the internet, it was that funny time of the '70s and early '80s, when books and 8 track cassette catalogue sales were big in the suburban Northeast. Her mother, still assimilating to American life, was keen on ordering all the free books and tapes she could get her hands on (had she only known what they contained!) Monica was probably the only child, not to mention immigrant child, in the entire neighborhood whose parents ordered the complete set of Encyclopedia Brittanica and numerous other ‘historical’ compilations.
Despite the discouragement, Monica set to researching, putting together her own version of events of what really went down 2000 years ago. and when she presented her findings to her mother she was met with the simple reply, ’But Monica, that is not what we were taught.’ ‘But Mother, look at the dates of these events, what you are saying isn’t possible, it’s 350 years apart.’ Her mother, clearly annoyed told her to ‘Forget it before you get into trouble’ and sent her to the yard to do work (ahh, the life of an eastern european immigrant’s child) If you don’t tow the line, you can get to work. If nothing else, intense manual labor always clears (numbs) the mind of any thoughts … or questions for that matter. Not Monica, once she realized the fundamental wrongs of what she was being taught, that thread that was pulled managed to unravel her entire existence as a child. If her mother wasn’t going to help her find the truth, well then, she would figure it out on her own! Up until that moment she was what any parent would call ‘the perfect child’. But that one moment of being brushed aside was the spark that was needed to ignite the eternal flame in her heart**
Flash forward to the beginning of her college years: Monica was required to take a history class to fulfill credit requirements & she randomly signed up for a class with the confusing title ‘East Central European Art & Architecture’. Through a chance meeting with the professor during her first year at University, Monica would come to find the most shocking discovery of all, that the same mysteries she was chasing in an abstract sense were found in the very question or origin of her Father’s surname, Muriglan.
Growing up with this name was anything but exciting, instead, it was a cause for much embarrassment. Each first day of school met with the dread of when the teacher would make an attempt to read her full name out loud. Even more embarrassing were the history lessons when the teacher would tell the young students of the meanings of different names, those such as Blacksmith or Johnson. The teacher would then go through the roster and ask the kids where their name was from. Most kids had great stories to tell. When it was Monica’s turn she could only mumble, ‘It’s Hungarian.’ Everyone would kind of stare, most kids wondering where this weird place she mentioned was in the world. It wasn’t France or England or Spain, places that they all heard of. Nor was she ‘Son of John’ or from a family of Blacksmiths. Worst of all, outside of school, all of the Hungarian family friends would say, ‘But your name is not Hungarian, it doesn’t mean anything in Hungarian’. After 2nd or 3rd grade she gave up trying to teach the teacher and resented having been born with a name that was supposedly Hungarian but no other Hungarian on the planet possessed.
At some point during High School, Monica found the birth and marriage certificates of her paternal Grandparents and she noticed there was a ‘y’ at the end of her last name. Muriglany. She liked it, so there was her answer! Her name finally translated to something, it was odd but it was something! ‘Girl of Murig.’ Yay! Done! She spent months trying out her new ‘normal’ name. She got used to the Y, and belonging to something, she spent many afternoons practicing writing her name in cursive with an exaggerated waving 'Y' at the end. But then one day her father stops and says something to the effect of, ‘Not so fast Monica, that ‘Y’ you are so excited about was added for a period of time to Hungarianize your name, it is not the original spelling so it was later taken back off.’ ‘What!?! That can’t be! Why are you telling me this?!’ If she wasn’t confused and disheartened before then this came as the last straw. The realization hit her like a cement wall, this embarrassing unpronounceable unknowable name was going to torture her throughout all of her days.
She Becomes I / Me, the Signifier
As fate would have it, a Star did finally shine on Monica during the reading of the roster of her first day of the aforementioned University Art History class. One 45 minute session that day would make up for the 13 first days of class from Kindergarten through high school where countless well meaning teachers would mutilate her last name. Not this time, this time she would be greeted by a teacher that was practically jumping up and down at the sight of her name. Monica, knowing the drill, was already sunk halfway down in her seat when the teacher got to her name in the middle of the alphabet. She begins yelling out ‘Monica, Monica do you know what your name means?’ I’m not sure if I responded, but I am certain in her excitement she didn’t wait for a response. She hurriedly asks me if I am Hungarian? ‘Well, yes I am’, very suspicious of where this is headed. A flurry of information came flying out of her mouth she had a doctorate or something like that in the study of all things ancient Celtic Hungarian. I heard part of it or most of it I’m not sure, because in my head all i could think was how is this woman who claims to have a PhD pairing together two opposites Celtic (hello, Irish !?!) and Hungarian.
She goes on to give an elaborate meaning to what she called a very old and original Celtic Hungarian name. I was floored. Or on the floor. Who can say, it was 23 years ago. But one thing is for certain, after 19 years on this earth I was finally offered an opening, a glimmer, an opportunity to make peace with my existence. For the first time in my life all the students that were staring at me were doing so with a look not of disdain, but of wonder. And what she described as the meaning was so beautiful, so appropriate that it brought tears, happy tears, to my eyes. I was humbled and made whole in that moment. Layers and years of underlying anguish washed away in this nyc classroom. Was she an apparition, was she an angel, how did this happen? What if I had never taken this class? What if after what if filled my head as I disappeared into a field of suspended thought.
After recovering from that initial day and the shock it brought, I began an unrelenting search for more answers to this information I was handed. The internet was still a vague idea at that point so this was essentially a library search and a slow one at that. I found in some obscure books written by equally obscure archaeologists and linguists that there was truth to what she was saying. The final location of the Celts was Ireland, but up to 30,000 years prior, they created elaborate and precious metal bowls and jewelry within their highly advanced and far reaching society that were discovered buried deep beneath the soil of the Hungarian region. I also discovered that up until the 1850s the Hungarian Celtic language was very unique and symbol oriented. In the mid 1800s a Pope whose name I forget set out to Romanize the region and did so first with Hungarian names and later the Hungarian alphabet. Stories were circulated that the Celts were no more than traveling mercenaries and heathens. No mention of the highly ‘civilized’ and spiritual depth of their artwork and objects nor it being the only 'modern' language with countless linguistic connections to both ancient Sumerian cuneiform and Sanskrit texts. A nomadic culture set on eating the world alive could not possibly have created and sustained themselves as a highly realized group of people over such an extended period of time. One of the oldest symbols of expression known to man as the Spiral was the centerpiece of all that they created. Seeing my beloved spiral was enough, I knew that whatever was presented by modern horseshit scholars, these people currently in power had nothing to do with the truth of this wonderful world and its history. What began as a quest to know more of myself, of my personal background and one of belonging has, over time, turned into a lifelong artistic and human pursuit of the ancient history of a people the world over.
On a more personal level, the greatest question that still remains is, how in the world did my family get away with not changing or ‘modernizing’ their name, essentially giving families completely new identities. And why. Who in my family line made that decision and is there a way I can find this person in spirit and give them a hug. Sincerely. So if my family line was Romanized in the 1800s then what religion or belief system did they really follow, what ethnicity or race historically do they, do I, belong to. Maybe I will never know, but I know, the way I knew when I was twelve, that the truth is part of all that we are.
So thank you teacher wherever you are. You gave the strength and the smallest bit of knowledge that would upend not only the family history I had been taught, but also a huge part of the human race. There is a connection there on those lands to the ancient histories of the world’s peoples and it is a joy, however hard or long the struggle, to wake up each morning as an artist and know, that there is a Story out there, and it is most certainly not the one I’m reading!
Shortly after receiving the news of my family identity, I moved to Paris to continue my art studies. I would spend the next 3 years immersed in this new knowledge and inquiry. My first 6 months were spent creating what I envisioned to be Hungarian Celtic Spiritual Warrior helmets and garb and making with the other students a performance piece that was videotaped and photographed. Where those videos are now is anyone’s guess. But in the spirit world, it exists! That awesome creation of young art students doing whatever because they were compelled to, and for that reason only. Some of the best times of my creative life were spent collaborating with that small group of international artists in the 15th arrondissement.
After I returned from my time abroad and having hit a wall in my research, I made a decision. Not knowing if it was the smartest thing on the planet, I finally told my father of this ‘discovery.’ I half expected him to have the same reaction as my mother had when I was twelve and questioned her about a certain religious history. Instead, after a long silence my father said, ‘Of course I know this.’ And sort of looked at me like, ‘What took you so long!’ I must have held my breath for two minutes and then I’m in his face all eager (and probably a little crazy) ‘What do you mean, what do you know, tell me everything!’ He had a look in his eye I had never seen before. It was as if for the first time in my life we stood there as equals, I am my Father’s daughter yes, but it was as if I had passed some unspoken test. He looked at me with recognition, with acceptance. It was miraculous. He didn’t have too much to say other than he too had spent his life trying to find the origin of his name, the name it was very old, ancient even and that it was Hungarian Celtic. He had hired a lawyer to further search and to see if we had any additional relatives. He said he didn’t come up with much more than I had already found out, even with the help of this lawyer. He never found another person with our last name. Possibly any other family members did indeed change their name to some generic acceptable Roman fake Hungarian name. Our family was destroyed but in a different way, the knowledge of who we are and where we came from made impossibly obscure by the machinations of some random government with an agenda that is still finalizing its stamp on the world. I was at the same time excited beyond words, my father confirming what this teacher had said, but also profoundly disappointed. A lawyer who can search anywhere with countless resources didn’t find out anything??? was it the truth or was I just not ready. I will never know, because my father never spoke of it again. He has since traveled to the heavens.
Monica has recently begun using her full name Monica Helen. Helen is the name of the aunt she never met. She is her father’s sister and passed away at four years old. He was two. It took Monica 28 years to accept having the connector of her first and last name be a child who passed from this world after only four short years.
Now, as I see her name in my life each day.
What is in a Name?
Beauty and Honoring.
My Father smiles from above.
**No parental judgement here at all as I tell my tale of two places. What I describe was the upbringing from that part of the 'old' world. It was about survival, and I would be a fool to pretend I know what it was like to grow up with the horrors my parents saw and experienced firsthand. It is with infinite Gratitude and Love that I thank them for instilling in me the strength and fortitude of my ancestors while leaving for a foreign land - one that allowed me the freedom to explore during my formative years.
Exhibitions, Awards and Publications:
June 2016. ArtSlant 4th Showcase Winner - Photography - Project 1776, 'The Gathering' Quarry Point, MA
April 2016. ArtSlant 3rd Showcase Winner - Photography - Project 1776, 'Transference of the Sword of Light' Cape Anne, MA.
February 2015. ArtSlant 2nd Showcase Winner - Photography - Project 1776, 'The Queen' Kaena Point, Oahu.
December 2014. 'Flight of the Falconers' Greenpoint Gallery Salon Show. Brooklyn, NY
February 2013. ArtSlant 2nd Showcase Winner - Photography - Project 1776, 'Heaven Sent' Trinity Church, NYC. George's Birthday 2-22-2012
November 2012. ArtSlant 6th Showcase Winner - Photography - Project 1776, 'Betsy Ross Returns" Washington DC.
October 2012. Global Health Bridge Art Auction, 25 CPW Gallery, New York, NY.
September 2012. ArtSlant 5th Showcase Winner - Photography - Project 1776 'George's Ashes' ~ Trinity Church NYC. Ash Wednesday, 2-22-2012.
July 2012. ArtSlant 4th Showcase Winner - Photography - Project 1776, 'Communion of Saints' - George at Morris Mansion NYC. Presidents Weekend 2012.
April 2012. ArtSlant 2nd Showcase Winner - Photography - Project 1776, 'Falconers Descend'. Washington DC, New Years Eve 2011.
February 2012. ArtSlant 1st Showcase Winner - Photography - Flight of the Falconers (Land of the Lenape). A secret beach in NJ. Project 1776 initiated.
October 2011. Printed Publication: 'Creation Stories: Tiamat's Primordial Man - Those that came from the Sea' Hesa Inprint, Helsinki Finland
October 2011. Webzine / blog: 'Creation Stories: Pele's Love Volcano Series Hesa Inprint, Helsinki Finland
October 2011. ArtSlant 5th Showcase Winner - Photography - Kimono Kids: Tendou Mushi 'Way of Heaven' ( Ladybug's Prayer for Japan ) Aztec, NM.
October 2011. Global Health Bridge Art Auction, 25 CPW Gallery, New York, NY
August 2011. Greenpoint Gallery Summer Salon Show. Brooklyn, NY
August 2011. ArtSlant 4th Showcase Winner - Photography - 'Overlooked' Robin Hood & Kimono Kids at Mesa Verde, Colorado.
2003-2011 Travel and creating Landscape Installations
2001 Artwalk New York. Chelsea Piers NY, NY
2000 Artwalk New York. Puck Building New York, NY
1999 Artwalk New York. Puck Building New York, NY
1997 Bataclan Galerie, Paris, France
1997 Parsons Paris Gallery, Paris, France
1996 Parsons Paris Gallery, Paris, France
1995 Parsons Gallery, New York, NY