Profiles in student art: ‘a way to connect, a wordless language’

 

This is the second in our series profiling some of the students whose work will be featured in our Annual High School Student Exhibit.

The collection is currently being installed in preparation for Friday’s opening reception (the exhibit runs March 18 through April 18), and we have been blown away by the pieces coming in for our favorite celebration of Youth Art Month.

This week, we catch up with Wissahickon High School sophomore Matthew Autieri. The 16-year-old is a student in David T. Miller’s honors art class and has been captivated by the process of creating since he was old enough to finger paint.

Looking back: “The first art project I remember doing was a glass candle holder with tissue paper glued to it. I must have been about 4 or 5 years old, and it was a Mother’s Day gift. It was supposed to resemble stained glass or something of that sort, and I just remember having difficulty choosing what color tissue paper to use, so I just ended up using all of them.”

"Ben," a portrait in charcoal

“Ben,” a portrait in charcoal

Early praise and support: “I think a lot of kids experience art at a really young age. But I was encouraged to pursue more classes, and it soon became my hobby. Outside of school I was taking different classes throughout grade school, at different museums and studios, and I realized that art is not only my favorite hobby but it also helps me, as well.”

Emerging style: “A lot of my older artwork is in more traditional portrait styles, and it was only recently that I started working in collage. I like searching through different magazines and advertisements and finding colors that speak to each other and sort of creating a palette that way. I like taking headlines from newspapers that catch my eye, and then defacing them in an ironic way…I think it provokes people to think about the media and what is really important.”

Preferred medium: acrylic, chalk pastel, and watercolor

On his submitted collage ‘Travesty’: “I used a lot of acrylic paint in this piece, and I had never really used it before. I have had some experience with oil paint. So I started off painting as if it were an oil painting, and I got bored. So it only felt natural to use my hands and channel that primal feeling I had when I was little and I would finger paint. I also like to dilute the paint and splatter and drip it — there’s a lot you can do.”

 

"I noticed that the most important things in the newspaper seem to be about crime, politics, or sports. These seem to be followed by the more essential (yet less sensational) things such as recipes. I like twisting these headlines by mashing the two together," says Matt Autieri of his collage "Travesty."

“I noticed that the most important things in the newspaper seem to be about crime, politics, or sports. These seem to be followed by the more essential (yet less sensational) things such as recipes. I like twisting these headlines by mashing the two together,” says Matthew Autieri of his collage “Travesty.”

This untitled sister piece to "Travesty" was also done in acrylic, chalk pastel and watercolor.

This untitled sister piece to “Travesty” was also done in acrylic, chalk pastel and watercolor. “Being an artist means pouring your heart and soul into something that is important to you,” says Matthew.

 

From nature to music: “There is so much inspiration all around. There are a lot of shapes and forms in nature that I find really interesting, especially different mammals and microscopic organisms. But sometimes I find inorganic structures very aesthetically pleasing as well. I also enjoy older portraits in oil and some more contemporary watercolor portraits, as well. I don’t personally believe that art is only visual though, so a lot of times the music I listen to can influence me, as well…When I’m making art I like listening to less lyrical music, because I find that a lot of the time this can influence me too much and it starts to take over the painting. I think different kinds of music can steer the piece in a different way.”

"Cindy," a watercolor portrait

“Cindy,” a watercolor portrait

A language of connection: “I believe art is a way to connect people to other people, to connect people with places and places with things, and people with themselves. Even the most simplistic, unrepresentative art still connects an individual to a process. The definition of art is in the eye of the beholder, so to me art is simply a way of connection, or a wordless language.”

Future plans: “Whatever my occupation will be, I still see myself dipping into many different parts of the art world…Ideally, I picture myself at Tyler (School of Art at Temple University). Anything after that is unknown, but if I’m not pursuing a career in art I will be shocked.”