Michelle Matson

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Artist Statement

When creating this body of work, I was thinking about hobo signs and symbols- subtle visual codes of communicating to provide directions, information and warnings to other parties in an alliance. I believe that this fascination gained speed for me during my teens and early twenties when I worked menial retail jobs. During this time, I would find ways to subtly alter the heavily curated environment as an amusement- in ways that could be imperceivable to an outsider, but would be glaringly obvious for those trained in visual merchandising in a detail oriented retail environment. Every clique has their own subtle ways of communicating.

These sculptures use an assemblage of materials to speak in code, to communicate, to scream signals of distress, boredom, ambivalence, humility, and mockery. Many of the works depict some version of pratfall and/or degrading scenarios within the artwork- many of the pieces are dirty, “pathetic”, include fabricated garbage and/or “mistakes”. Using plaster, wood and acid free colored paper I construct hand-made facsimiles of common, commercially available objects and arrange them into darkly humorous, sexually charged, dreamlike totems and tableaux. Perverting the motif of the readymade, these pieces have been fabricated using a limited palette of commercially manufactured colored paper and household construction materials. I am particularly interested in leading the viewer subtly into the surreal via the minutiae of missing information- errors in the hard lines of branding logos, slightly distorted measurements, jarring coloration; these items present shadow selves of the world we know. The implied narrative is compiled using the viewers’ personal history, the objects’ commercial legacy and the specific arrangement/juxtaposition of the objects within the sculpture itself. I envision the subtly surreal, aesthetically arranged pieces to be dis-used props, set dressings- stills from an imagined film- a disrupted version of the everyday. The visual cues come from a mash-up of source material, from art history to pop culture; my focus is evenly split between the aesthetics of construction and the implied narrative of the pieces.



b. 1981

Lives & works in Brooklyn, NY


2005 BFA School of Visual Arts

2004 The School of Visual Arts/ LLOTJA, Escola Superior De Disseny i Art, Barcelona, Spain

Awards, Nominations and Residencies

Recipient of the Individual Grant from the Bell Foundation for Cultural Development

GlogauAIR, Artist Residency, Berlin, Germany
Playground Detroit x Spread Art, Detroit, MI
Recipient Louis Bourgeois Residency for a Sculptor, YADDO, Saratoga Springs, NY

2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015
Nominee, Rema Hort Mann Foundation

Silas H. Rhodes Merit Scholarship, School of Visual Arts

Selected Solo Exhibitions

“SDS”, GlogauAIR Project Space, Berlin, Germany
“Michelle Matson”, Whitdel Arts, Detroit, MI

“Cactus Milk”, Youth Group Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
“Rise”, Pleats Please, Issey Miyake, New York, Organized by Robert Von Leszczynski

“Cabin Fever”, School of Visual Arts: Westside Gallery, New York
Untitled, Kantor/Feuer Project Space, New York

Mass Media Exhibitions

2011 Contestant on Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, Season 2, Bravo Television Network, International syndication

Selected Group Exhibitions

“In Between Meanings”, SPRING/BREAK Art Show, Room 4001 Curated by Rachel Phillips

“This is What Sculpture Looks Like”, Postmasters Gallery, New York, NY
“Show #10”, The Parlour Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY
“Brucennial”, New York, NY, Organized by The Bruce High Quality Foundation

Scope Fair, Miami, FL; The Breeder Program, Booth J21, The Parlour Bushwick
“But I Can if You Like”, GlogauAIR, Berlin, Germany
“Hearts of Palm”, Acumen Project Space, Long Island City, Queens, NY
Fashfest, Detroit, MI
“Show #6”, The Parlour Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY

Seven Miami, Postmasters Gallery, Miami, FL
“Blankland”, Torrance Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA
“Itsa Small Small World”, Family Business Gallery, New York, NY, Organized by Hennessey Youngman

“Colorific! We Make an Art Rainbow”, Postmasters, New York, Organized     by Paulina Bebecka

“Paperwork”, Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York, Curated by Nina Chanel Abney
“The Perfumed Hankerchief”, Flux Factory, Queens, NY, Curated by Alison Ward

“Works on Paper”, Garfo Art Center, Salt Lake City, UT
“Never Can Say Goodbye”, Former Tower Records Building, New York, Created by No Longer Empty

“Don’t Flee the Art Market”, Postmasters, New York, Curated by Paulina Bebecka
“Extra Extra”, China Art Objects, Los Angeles, CA

“Congregation”, 54 Crosby, New York, NY

“Six Degrees of Separation”, Stux Gallery, New York, NY
” Studio Visit”, Exit Art, New York, NY

Selected Press/ Publications

Smith, Roberta. “This is what sculpture looks like,” at the Postmasters Gallery” The New York Times, July 24, 2014

“It’s Nice That Annual 2013” Published December 2013
Cartwright, James. “Art:  Grotesque paper sculptures from the hilarious Michelle Matson.” www.itsnicethat.com, June 12, 2013
“Michelle Matson”. Ask Manuela, part of Vice blogging network. June 6, 2013.
Michelle Matson”.  www.paperdarts.org, March 21, 2013
Fischer, Joshua D. “Putting New York Artists in a Detroit State of Mind”, New York Times Blog, The Local.  February 27, 2013
“PD Presents: NYC Artist Michelle Matson for Spread Art Residency Program”, PlaygroundDetroit.com. February 18, 2013


“Hit List, Things We Like”, Modern Painters, June 2012
“Michelle Matson’s Cut Paper Figures”, Amir, Beautiful/Decay, May 2, 2012
Hybenova, Katarina. “Paper Sculptures of Michelle Matson”, Bushwick Daily. February 2, 2012

“Show of Support, Seven Miami”, Marina Cashdan, New York Times Style Magazine, December 2, 2011
“Inhabitat’s Top Eco Art Picks from Art Basel Week in Miami”, Lori Zimmer, December 6, 2011
“Work of Art Recap: How I Helped Rob an Artist”, Jerry Saltz, NYMAG.com, December 15, 2011
“Work of Art Recap: Elimination Heartbreak”, Jerry Saltz, NYMAG.COM,     December 1, 2011
“Work of Art Recap: Art Girls (and Boys) Gone Wild!”, Jerry Saltz, NYMAG.COM, November 17, 2011
“Work of Art Recap: Jerry Saltz Shows Art Appreciation on a Gut Level”, Jerry        Saltz, NYMAG.COM, October 20, 2011
“Work of Art Recap: Jerry Saltz Is Back Recapping His Own Reality Show”, Jerry Saltz, NYMAG.COM, October 13, 2011
“Work of Art: Epizode One,” Schlock Art'”, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn,         huffingtonpost.com, October 13, 2011
“Work of Art Episode One: Kitsch or Ditch”, Paddy Johnson, ARTFAGCITY.COM, October 13, 2011
“AFC’s Work of Art Season Two Supplementary Program Guide”, Paddy Johnson, ARTFAGCITY.COM, October 12, 2011
“Michelle Matson, Village VOICE, “Bike-Accident Victim, Will Be On Reality TV” By Camille Dodero, September 6, 2011
“Anatomy of A Greenpoint Bike Accident” By Camille Dodero, Village VOICE, August 17, 2011