Meet Matilda. Painter, creative, and preserver of heritage and memories. During her Soft Body Acrylic residency, Matilda worked with fluid layers of vibrant color, interpreting emotions and experiences around the concept of immigration in both her and her husband’s families. The result was striking, large-scale reimaginings of family portraits and moments lost in time:
“I think I started looking at it first when my daughter was born. And both her paternal grandparents passed away before she was born, so I wanted to learn more about that side of her history. And as I was looking at the photos, I also very much felt like I related to them. A lot of the photos are when they first came to Miami from Hong Kong, so you can sort of see like what you go through when you come to a new country: you are very excited, there are lots of new opportunities, but it is also very confusing. There’s just lots of mixed emotions, I think. So it was just a combination of wanting to learn more about them and their personal histories, and also it became sort of a process of self discovery.”
By incorporating both archival imagery from old family photos as well as newer and more personal memories, Matilda creates paintings that are independent of time and location, but instead focus on emotion:
“I definitely add in contemporary imagery as well. It might not be as obvious, but I sneak in my daughter a lot. But also, the place itself. For example, if I make a painting that is situated in Miami where they grew up, I spent a lot of time there, so I have a lot of contemporary images from there. And so I use those to combine, so it’s almost like collaging in my mind.”
Though she works from reference photos, Matilda embraces chance and experimentation during the painting process:
“I love when unexpecting things happen. I just love exploring. Sometimes my paintings take much longer than maybe is necessary because I love exploring with the paint so much. Just try out different things to see what will happen. Just taking risks with the paint because you can always paint them back.”
Watch her in action.