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Selective Focus: Flo Matamoros

SF-TeaserFloMatamoros
Tonight (Friday, August 19) at Prove Gallery, there’s an opening of a collaboration between Flo Matamoros and Brian Ring called “The things they carried.” Flo Matamoros tells how her spontaneous, flowing style came to be.

F.M: My creative background is one that has been shaped by obsessive curiosity through the tool box that Art History is and the amount of creative mentors I have had since a child.
I was fortunate enough to receive around 7 years of classical painting training from age 7 until 14 in El Salvador (thanks mom!). So, I had to paint a lot of what I consider boring shit. Still life, landscape, flowers, etc. My professor said I had to master all that “boring shit” before I was allowed to paint the human form. So it took me until my freshman year at St. Scholastica (I started my higher education as a Chemistry Major because I thought that painting was bogus and Art was meh) to get over myself.

Installation at Duluth Art Institute: Sorry Mom, I'm So High.  Montana Paint Marker, Paper, wheat paste, Shoes, Sharpies, Cardboard, & Plastic. 2015.

Installation at Duluth Art Institute: Sorry Mom, I’m So High.
Montana Paint Marker, Paper, wheat paste, Shoes, Sharpies, Cardboard, & Plastic. 2015.

By getting over myself, I imply the necessity to try and be like everyone else. Thanks to Sarah Brokke, PoLin Kosuth & John Steffl, I was able to reconnect with the curious child and leave the cynic somewhat behind (ask Sarah Brokke about the weird political project I did as a freshman and how much of a complainer I was). My pattern work and abstracted illustration style was born out of obsessive behavior. My patterns began and continue to be a self-medication for my constant battle with depression. I recently found so many articles that talk about high-functioning depression, you know those kids that keep themselves super busy and active and they don’t seem to “look like they’re depressed because they participate”. That’s me, I participate. So I paint. I study Art History. I draw. I work like three jobs (NWS, Vikre Distillery and co-owner of Prove Gallery). And I watch, a looooooooot of cartoons.

Detail of Collaboration with Brian Ring. "The Things They Carried" 2016.  Paint, Paint Markers, Found Paint, Old Canvases done in span of three weeks.

Detail of Collaboration with Brian Ring. “The Things They Carried” 2016.
Paint, Paint Markers, Found Paint, Old Canvases done in span of three weeks.

I work primarily in black. I have tried leaving behind working in small compressed spaces and have moved on to working large scale. I am a pattern maker. I use movement, linework and negative space to help the audience read the positive space and be guided through ephemeral experiences. So I’ve become more of a performer than a stagnant illustrator. I use history to my advantage and quote previous Artist and movements (such as reader response theory; the audience makes the piece) to decipher the meaning of experience through creativity. What does that mean? My favorite moment and the true completion of my work and pieces is the moment they are erased and are only memories. Talk about a therapeutic cathartic experience!

The Politics of Porn Hub, wallpaper with handmade wooden shelves, crayola markers. 2016. An interactive piece where the public was invited to participate through written and social cues.

The Politics of Porn Hub, wallpaper with handmade wooden shelves, crayola markers. 2016.
An interactive piece where the public was invited to participate through written and social cues.


I have been making my patterns for about 8 years now. I went from using only acrylic and oils to ONLY using sharpies (on people’s bodies, other found surfaces like old canvases and pieces of wood) to now my favorite toy a “graffiti marker” or paint marker, specifically Montana Acrylic Marker.
Untitled Mural at Red Herring Lounge. Montana Paint Markers 2015.

Untitled Mural at Red Herring Lounge. Montana Paint Markers 2015.


The biggest challenges about what I do is the constant vulnerability that I allow myself to show the world. I feel like an open wound all the time. Mostly because I don’t work from sketches or plans. I work with raw concepts and emotions, movement, and space. I have made the walls of Duluth my playground because I refuse to give up that constant search of curiosity. My biggest dislike in the world are pencils. I like truths. Every line; circle; squiggle; little alien looking abstracted figure is meant to be, and if not just throw it away. Who cares. My biggest challenge is that intoxicating passion that drives and holds me back. The rewards of what I do are those same exact things. I don’t want to romanticize what I do, but the intoxicating feeling that’s left behind when you do decide to take the risk, be vulnerable and make mistakes is incredible. It’s like that tingly feeling you get in your brain and body when you know you’re learning something that’s helping you shape your path. “Aha moments!”
Portrait of Flo by Sarah Brokke

Portrait of Flo by Sarah Brokke


I’ve apologize way too much in my lifetime for being who I am, that I refuse to make excuses because my illustrations take space. Take space.
In-progress shot of an Untitled Skateboard for the Plys with Purpose Fundraiser 2015. Pomos gel and acrylic paint.

In-progress shot of an Untitled Skateboard for the Plys with Purpose Fundraiser 2015.
Pomos gel and acrylic paint.


I’m fortunate enough to have folks in town that love my abstracted illustrations and pattern-work. You can see my work in public and private spaces. Public spaces include: being part of the Duluth Art Institute‘s Permanent collection in their corridor gallery, The Red Herring Lounge, those ‘Perormer’ shirts, and at Northern Waters Smokehaus (the later two shows my versatility). Private collections include a lot, but recently my favorite one is at Kelly Mullan & Tyler Scouton’s. I’ve got a few more commissions to complete and I couldn’t be more excited.

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