Monica Perez is a Boyle heights-based artist who is a Social Worker, Community-based Chef and Photographer. She is an avid storyteller who uses food, photography and social practices as platforms to advocate and share stories from the perspective of a single Mexican/American mother living with terminal cancer. She is the founder of VeganMoni and the East Side Cancer Project.
VeganMoni was born in 2010 after she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. At the young age of 32, Monica was determined to fight and survive. She underwent a double mastectomy, chemo therapy and was in remission for years before she had a reoccurrence. In 2016 she was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer that had spread to her lungs and bones. Food has been an essential part of her recovery process and now is a fundamental key to her health. VeganMoni ranges from healthy catering to teaching cooking classes and advocates for dignified food options in the desert community of Boyle Heights. She has worked with numerous schools, non-profits and her local community to create a platform for discussion, demonstrations and education. She has used these platforms to engage in conversation, talk about the obstacles in her community and find solutions.
The East Side Cancer Project provides resources and support for WOC who are battling or living with Breast Cancer. ESCP meets once a month to provide a storytelling support group. We help women find their voice and encourage them to share and story-tell as a form of healing.
She is currently working on Sad, but True, a compilation of screenplays, writings and directorial projects based on her own life as a child and into the present. She highlights the sad, funny and resilient stories thats she has experienced as lonely child, a broken woman, and a dying mother. She has been able to find comedy in her sadness and turn it into a
Monica has been photographing for as long as I've been a mom. She bought her first camera 20 years ago to simply photograph her children when they were young. It wasn't until 10 years ago that I began to take photography more serious and began to explore more.
"Cueros", is an photography exhibit that highlights nude WOC over the age or 40. It is planned to open in September at Espacio 1839.