Mercer Artist: visual artist, Monique Demers

It’s a rarity to find an artist who also spends their days helping design life-changing devices as a biomedical engineer. Yet that is exactly how third-year biomedical engineering student and art minor Monique Demers spends her time.

Demers, who came to Mercer from Barre, Vt., is a rare type of student. The average engineering student does not have the mindset to also study art, and due to time commitment, would not try to study both simultaneously. This is because an art minor is not the easy undertaking many seem to think it is.

“In a lot of ways, art is more challenging than engineering,” said Demers, “especially if you’re in an art class because you have to be constantly inspired and be producing art that is of excellent quality. It really takes its toll on you.”

As an artist, Demers specializes in graphic and charcoal works, though she has studied acrylic, oil and water based painting, as well as sculpture and photography.

“I like the simplicity of charcoal,” said Demers, “I like how it’s possible to create wonderful art without traditional colors.”

Demers went on to explain what art meant to her as an engineering student. “It’s an escape. Art to me is really fun and relaxing…when you’re in an art class it’s like having several hours of forced meditation per week. You’re not stressing over your other classes, you’re not worried about the other work you have to do, you are simply focused on whatever piece of art you are creating,” said Demers.

She first discovered her passion for art in the second grade, when the son of her school’s principal complimented a work she had completed in art class. By fourth grade, Demers had her very own art tutor and by the end of high school had taken every art class available.

As a student at Mercer, Demers has succeeded both as an engineer and as an art student. During her freshman year, she received an honorable mention in the university’s annual student art show.

During her second year, she was awarded first place for a sculpture she submitted to the show. Meanwhile, as an engineer, Demers traveled to Vietnam through Mercer on Mission and helped fit prosthetics to many of the local amputees. She described the trip as a “life-changing experience.”

Asked what she rates as her favorite work she has completed, Demers described the current favorite completed work, the charcoal piece that earned her an honorable mention in her freshman year.

“It’s a pair of hands that are held up to the sky, with one hand grasping the other forearm. They are placed on a black background. I really like the contrast,” said Demers.

However, Demers claims that the idea for the piece came to her at the last minute and shortly before the project’s deadline.

It would seem that inspiration is not something one can expect to happen with any regularity, but is one of those things one must trust when it comes along. Hopefully, Demers’ sense of inspiration will continue to serve her well in the future, both as an artist and an engineer.