The Mona Lisa masterpiece inspires this work. Even so, Ritchie wanted to add some urban flair to his rendition of the work. He made very slight modifications to the woman’s features to give her an African-inspired look. So, when he looked at the Monica artwork, it felt like he was looking at someone he knew.
The Monica artwork is an African-inspired rendition of the Mona Lisa artwork by Leonardo Da Vinci. Ritchie holds Leonardo Da Vinci in high regard, going as far as to name him as his favorite artist of all time. Monica seems to blend the modern cultural context with the historical significance of the Mona Lisa artwork.
The inspiration for this artwork stemmed from the desire to see such beauty (i.e., as shown in the Mona Lisa artwork) but from an African American perspective.
This artwork was a labor of love, spanning three years (i.e., from 2014 to 2017). Over that time, Ritchie experienced divorce, remarried, and completed his master’s in educational leadership.
Graphite is Ritchie’s favorite medium. He also desired to see the skin tone of Monica articulated in the smooth mid-values that he loves to apply in his artworks.
Yes, Ritchie created the artwork in his office. It laid on his desk for three years. During that time, whenever he had a moment, he would go in and add new details. This process continued until he was delighted with the piece.
As is always the case with Ritchie’s art, Monica is open to interpretation. While Ritchie has his thoughts about Monica, he does not want to steer people into feeling how he feels about the work.
Work on Monica began in 2014 and ended in 2017. During that time, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, and Eric Garner were killed by police (to name a few), the Ebola crisis happened, Colin Kaepernick kneeled, the Charleston church shooting happened, and neo-Nazi rhetoric was a thing again. In short, there is a lot of pain and confusion penciled into the piece’s inner workings.