Artist Monica Petty Aiello was born in Houston, Texas in 1971 and spent her youth in Austin. She grew up in a family of mathematicians and computer scientists and her first love was that of astronomy and physics. At the age of 15, Monica started her own custom clothing business. At 16, she graduated from high school early to attend the University of Texas where she entered the Business Honors Program, with a concentration in Textiles & Apparel. She received her degree in 1992, and moved to New York City where she served as a jazz and special projects publicist at BMG Entertainment. While in New York, she also worked with acclaimed video artist Matthew Barney in the release of his Cremaster 5 CD Soundtrack. During this time, Monica was simultaneously developing her own artwork, and in 1997 BMG acquired three of her early paintings for their corporate collection. In 1997, Monica also met her husband, sculptor Tyler Aiello, and moved to Denver where the couple pioneered the now popular RINO Arts District. The Aiellos opened the contemporary gallery Studio Aiello which quickly gained award-winning acclaim as one of the most innovative spaces in the region. They also renovated and opened a second large warehouse, the TarFactory, which operated as a collaborative sculpture and studio facility until 2010. In 2005, the couple closed the gallery portion of their business, choosing to focus on the art-making side of their interests. Since this time, the Aiello’s careers have exploded nationally and they have been recognized by visual art, scientific and education communities for their studio and public practice work.
Monica is known for her lush, mixed-media paintings that blend her deep interest in planetary science with a love for fiber, materials, process and content. She works closely with the NASA community in both the development of her work and public programs which activate scientific inquiry through art and cultural outreach. Monica’s paintings are composed of layer upon layer of mixed-media, constructed like strata to interpret the geomorphology of the planets and moons in our solar system. Equally concerned with craft and concept, she has been recognized for developing innovative practice to explore the subject of photogeoloogy. Monica often consults with noted scientists involved with NASA’s Voyager, Galileo, Cassini, Messenger, Dawn, New Horizons and Magellan missions in order to dissect the mysteries of our celestial neighbors. She then captures their geologic history through ingenious uses of acrylic, paper, ink, gel, found materials, fiber, heat, air, gravity and water.
Monica’s work appears in numerous private, corporate, and museum collections; and has been presented at galleries and museums nation-wide. In 2009, she was honored with a large solo-exhibition at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center in association with their presentation of the Smithsonian’s exhibition NASA | ART: 50 Years of Exploration. She has also exhibited at the Aspen Art Museum, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities. Her work has been presented alongside such masters as Vance Kirkland, Herbert Bayer, Larry Bell, Arthur Dove, and Isamu Noguchi.
As an acclaimed educator, Monica has been recognized for developing transdisciplinary programs uniting science and art education through her organization EUREKUS. She consults with her husband Tyler designing STEAM programs for NASA, K-12 schools, colleges, museums and libraries. She was a two-time Lossett Visiting Professor at the University of Redlands where she co-taught a class on art and geology with planetary scientist, Dr. Julie Rathbun. Her work has also been covered in numerous publications including: Sky & Telescope Magazine, MTV’s The Real World and the book, Stars Above, Earth Below – A Guide to Astronomy in the National Parks by Dr. Tyler Nordgren. In 2015, EUREKUS was named a Finalist for the US 2020 STEM Mentoring Awards and Monica was invited to the White House Complex for the symposium and awards.