Creative Quarantine: Artist Matthew Girson

Matthew Girson | Photo credit: Chester Alamo - Costello

1. How are you holding up?

I’ve been holding up well enough. My wife and family, our friends, our garden, the work I do in my studio, and long bicycle rides have kept me buoyant.


Excavation, 5, 2019, oil, enamel and alkyd on aluminum, 32 x 42”. | Photo credit: Tom Van Eynde

These uncertainties have motivated me to take an even closer look into the reasons and methods that I rely upon as an artist, educator, and citizen.

2. Has Covid-19 had an effect on your work? If so, in what way?

COVID-19, the murders of George Floyd and others, and the federal government’s response to these events continue to be very troubling. They make clear the fact that many things that we thought were somewhat stable and secure are actually very fragile and uncertain. These uncertainties have motivated me to take an even closer look into the reasons and methods that I rely upon as an artist, educator, and citizen. These positions intersect in my work that explores the failures of democracy. If the goal from the beginning was to form a more perfect union, then, recent events have exposed many hurdles and highlighted many pitfalls on our journey toward that goal. Awareness of this has heightened my sensitivity to the nuances of living and working in a society that claims to honor free speech and expression and the idea that we’re all created equally with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


Between the Source and the Echo,2020, flag design for the Four Flags Exhibition at Chicago Manual Style, Chicago. | © Matthew Girson

3. Is there anything you’ve added to your practice that you’d like to keep after this is over?

The awareness that the American political model is a fragile experiment and that none of us are innocent when the goals written into the founding documents are not being met.


Excavation Installation, 1, 2020, enamel, acrylic and mirror on walls, 54 x 86”. | Photo credit: Nick Albertson

4. Of the artists you follow, who’s handling this particularly well?

Rashayla Marie Brown is working on a new movie that I can’t wait to see. Marc Fischer’s Quaranzine gave us a lens into life during the pandemic and then shifted to include grass-roots, community responses to protests that arose after George Floyd’s murder.


Butterfly Excavation, 2, 2019, oil, enamel and alkyd on mirror, 16 x 12”. | Photo credit: Nick Albertson

Installation View, This Scrim Became One, Aspect Ratio Projects, Chicago. January 2020 | Photo credit: Nick Albertson

If the goal from the beginning was to form a more perfect union, then, recent events have exposed many hurdles and highlighted many pitfalls on our journey toward that goal.

Murmur of Democracy logo, 2017 | © Matthew Girson

The first Murmur of Democracy on January 20, 2017, Chicago, IL. | Photo credit: Jordan Schulman

Murmur of Democracy, October 20, 2019, Ballyvaughan, Ireland. | Photo credit: Conor McGrady

Matthew Girson’s work explores painting and it’s history, failures of democracy, and points at which these subjects intersect. Recent exhibitions and projects include This Scrim Became One, a two-person exhibition (with Nick Albertson) at Aspect Ratio Projects in Chicago and “A Device for Seeing Past, Present, and Future of COVID-19” for Quaranzine: A printed space for creative work being produced during the COVID-19 pandemic (initiated, organized, and printed by Marc Fischer). Current and ongoing projects include the Four Flags at Chicago Manual Style and Murmurs of Democracy.

Since 2001, Matthew Girson has been teaching all levels of painting and drawing as well as seminars on contemporary art at DePaul University.

Matthew Girson’s work can be found online at:

www.matthewgirson.com 

www.januarytwenty.net

www.chicagomanual.style/four-flags