INTERVIEW: MATTHEW DIETZ

CSA co-founder, Erin Nathanson recently spoke with winter artist Matthew Dietz. They discussed being young and struck by public art, teaching emerging artists, and how his high school sweetheart (now wife) has influenced him along the way.

EN: Growing up in Indiana you were exposed to public art at a young age. Talk about a piece that struck you.

MD: I was lucky to have grown up with a lot of public art and architecture.  The one that sticks with me to this day is the Large Arch by Henry Moore.  As a kid I always thought of it as something figurative, I always saw them as dinosaur hips because as a kid I thought dinosaurs were cool, which they are, but as I have grown into the artist I am today I see it more as an form used to contrast the building/landscape it is seen with at the IM Pei Bartholomew County Library.  The sculpture and the library contrast in almost every way - the library is very geometric, the sculpture is very organic, the library is made of red brick while the sculpture is green oxidized bronze.  As I have researched this artwork I found that I.M. Pei requested this work specifically to be part of his architectural design of the library.

EN: Describe what art felt like as a young person and the moment you decided “I am going to do this.”

MD: I have made paintings and drawing for most of my life now and it took me awhile to say “I am going to do this.” I would have to say the moment had to have hit me in my junior year of undergrad.  I was working on a series of self portrait drawings, along with all the other class work I had, and I had been staring at myself for so long, whether it was staring at my drawing or at my reflection.  I needed to sharpen my charcoal pencil and the lead just keep breaking and I lost it.  I threw my pencil against the wall and stormed out of class with many expletive deleted words.  That was when I decided that I wasn’t going to let the pencil and paper defeat me, I had to make it work because I wanted to see something that I had not made yet.  That is why I make things - because I want to see whatever it is that I am creating at the time.

EN: You’re highly educated in the studio arts. Do you believe continued education is a gateway for an artist?

MD: I think that it was for me.  I believe that looking at and reading about art while trying to grow a knowledge base is important for artists.  That might not have to be in an academic setting.  For me the resources provided by the schools I have attended were invaluable.  The amount of books, lectures, visiting artists, and discussions have shaped the way that I think about and look at art work. Plus being able to have the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Wexner Center for the Arts available to me has allowed me to see some really great exhibitions.

EN: Have you ever had a moment of complete failure with your art? What did you learn from it and how did this shape who you are today as an artist?

MD: I have complete failure with my artwork all the time.  Sometimes I feel like just going into the studio can create nothing but failure. But, if I give up there, what’s the point?  I’m pretty stubborn sometimes.  I remember the first time I applied to graduate schools I was denied across the board.  At this point I had already been out of under-grad for six years and I guess I was questioning myself as an artist and denial didn’t help. I did receive an offer for the post-baccalaureate program at SAIC, it wasn’t what I wanted but it could help me progress until I had to reapply to grad school.  It was an important crossroads and I feel like I chose the right path.

EN: Recall the last moment you felt “this is all worth it.”

MD: The last time I felt it was seeing some of my students doing the Exit show at Trident.  I’m happy to see that all the work I have done can be translated and helpful for others you want to make images.

EN: What’s your theme song?

MD: “Move” by Miles Davis.

EN: You married your high school sweetheart. How has she influenced you?

MD: You had to drop the teardrop question didn’t you?  Lisa has been in my life just a little longer than I have been serious about making art.  So she knew me before art was my main focus.  She influences me every moment of everyday.  What’s so great about knowing someone that long is that we have seen each other grow and change throughout many experiences that are shared.  It has been great to see her develop and change as a dancer and dance educator.  We get to have great conversations about our art forms, the differences and similarities between them.  We also are best friends, can laugh and enjoy a great dinner together. There is no other person I could imagine going through life with.

EN: You’re here by way of Chicago, IL. What brought you to Charleston, SC?

MD: I moved here to gain experience teaching. A good friend and colleague from Chicago, Scott Wallace, had foundations classes he needed instructors for.  When we came down to look for a place Lisa had two interviews for dance teaching jobs and walked away with two jobs so we felt it was the right move. We have both gained so much experience since moving here. It has been great.

EN: What gets you excited about being a college level art instructor?

MD: I get excited watching students progress and get better at making artwork.  I really enjoy seeing students out in the world doing what they went to school to do and are happy doing it.

EN: Come up with three words which describe your artistic style.

MD: Referential, Abstract, Painterly

EN: If you could live in any artist’s mind, whose would it be and why?

MD: Josef Albers, I would love to know what he did about color and see color through his eyes.

EN: Share with us a clue of what’s to come for your Winter shareholders (BUT DON’T GIVE IT AWAY).

MD: They have a lot of energy.

EN: What would you dooooo for a Klondike bar?

MD: Make 32 artworks!

Matthew Dietz is one of the Winter Season artists.

Winter shares are SOLD OUT!  There are still a few 2014 spring and fall shares available. Purchase now before it’s too late!

PURCHASE A SPRING OR FALL SHARE

STUDIO VISIT: MATTHEW DIETZ

Winter share artist, Matthew Dietz, invited us into his studio situated in an intimate room with north facing, natural light. Here is what we found.

Multiple work surfaces with tools and references such as comic books are just within reach. Matthew begins each piece at his drawing desk. His trusty Bears cup holds pencils, pens, and other drawing materials. X-acto blades, adhesives, and memorabilia also line his desk. Go Bears!Work “zone two” is Matthew’s easel and floor space, which holds a diverse range of painting supports. Piles and more piles is how Matthew rolls - keeping reference materials, 15 to 20 brushes in rotation, scrapers, and more within reach is key to this organized chaos.

Matthew prefers working with Golden Artist Colors paints and mediums. Color mixing is an organic process for the artist and most colors are created from memory. You will find primary colors as well as different shades of green in his paint box (which the artist has been using since he started painting).

Three different tapes are used by Matthew, each type giving a different effect:

1. Masking tape allows the paint to bleed
2. Blue tape gives a sharper edge
3. Frog tape for the most crisp lines.

Aside from art supplies and work surfaces - music keeps the artist company in this cozy space. You will most likely find contemporary jazz such as the Chicago Underground Duo and/or punk rock pumping through the speakers.

Matthew Dietz is one of the Winter Season artists.

Winter shares are SOLD OUT!  There are still a few 2014 spring and fall shares available. Purchase now before it’s too late!

PURCHASE A SPRING OR FALL SHARE

 

INSPIRATION: MATTHEW DIETZ

Winter artist and painter, Matthew Dietz took a moment to let us in on what inspires his work and his creativity.

HISTORY
I have always been someone that goes with my gut and rolls with the punches. In this improvisational
life style, following my intuition or reacting to what is happening around me is important. This is what
drives me the most as an artist. My creative process is driven by trying to represent this moment of
being reflexive and present. Ironically, I enjoy repetition, ritual, and process. I like being in the moment
and acting and reacting to things around me and my environment - channeling these experiences into
images through a routine.

ARTISTS AND VIEWING ART

There are two major artworks that have shaped me the most as an artist. Henry Moore’s Large Arch,
and Robert Motherwell’s Wall Painting With Stripes. These works have been a big part of my aesthetic
for what I create as an artist. These works are etched into my memories and are a strong influence
when I’m creating.

As a child I remember standing under the large arch with my Grandmother. She pointed out that while
looking through the large arch you could see one of the brightest stars in the night sky over the church
across the street. The conflict of organic shapes and geometric shapes is a battle I continue to fight to
this day. It is amazing to look at these two conflicting forms of human creation living in harmony
within the backdrop of the nature of the night sky. The oxidized copper of the sculpture and light tan
stone of The First Christian Church, designed by architect Eliel Saarinen, have a beautiful dialogue.

While visiting the Art Institute of Chicago for the first time, I saw Robert Motherwell’s work Wall
Painting with Stripes. At first I passed it casually. The tans, grays, black, and white did not stand out at
first but before I left the room I looked again. Suddenly I saw a painting simple in design but heavy with
thought. The image had been worked over multiple times and each layer of the painting was significant.

The undermost layers of the painting are as important as the last. I was lost for hours looking at how simple the painting was but how considered and mentally labored it was before it was completed.

MUSIC, IMPROV, AND COMICS

Music has always been a strong pull for me as an artist and is always a reference for creating images. Being able to connect in an improvisational moment is very crucial to the creative process for me. Music can be an improvisation that fades away if it isn’t recorded, while improvisational painting can make each mark a record in time like a recording of images.

Comic books have also been a strong visual presence in my art work. The compositions within the cells have always caught my eye. I have spent more time with these artists then I spent with the masters in the art history books. These images from comics have continued to be references for my abstractions. I have broken them down into simple forms that stand by themselves.

Matthew Dietz is one of the Winter Season artists.
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Winter shares are SOLD OUT!  There are still a few 2014 spring and fall shares available. Purchase now before it’s too late!

PURCHASE A SPRING OR FALL SHARE