In Monikahouse, a Wichita State student has created the city’s most powerful art experience


John Darr

A massive fetus sculpture stands as Monikahouse’s centerpiece.

Monikahouse is a home-turned-life-size dollhouse that seizes the hearts of visitors with unbelievable force. If you are doing anything else this Friday evening, cancel your plans and see it instead.

The walk-in art exhibit came to life at the hands of Wichita State MFA candidate Monika Maddux. Maddux struggled for years to give birth to a baby girl, and through that process, she suffered several miscarriages.

Her hope and grief resonates intensely through every room in the house. Baby clothes, pillows, photos, and toys — many of which are family heirlooms without a young girl to inherit them — radiate the loss of a child’s future.

In other rooms, darker exhibits present disturbing, obsessive portrayals of pain. Baby names fill up a cage, adorn scrapbook pages, and call softly from closets. Unused furniture for an absent girl looms menacingly against a wall. Pregnancy tests lie strewn on a floor. What’s incredible is how the rooms present nuanced portrait of loss that never become confusing in their complexity.

As such, Monikahouse is an emotionally haunted house that draws its power not from cheap scare tactics, but from a place of overwhelming and honest suffering.

Personally, I have never experienced art this powerful and probably never will again. There’s something about being able to physically walk through a piece of art that engages the heart beyond its natural limits. In Monikahouse, Maddux has truly created a masterpiece in which every intricate detail finds its way to the soul.

MONIKAHOUSE will be open from 7 – 9 p.m. Friday, featuring a performance at 9. The show is located at 1121 N. Bitting Street.