Matthew Kirk

Matthew Kirk was born in 1978 in Ganado, AZ. Today he lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. 

My paintings are extensions of my brain, physical existence, and my everyday life. Through my use of readily available materials, vague and familiar marks, and unique presentation, I have a desire to connect with people as a distinct individual. I want them to come away with an idea of who I am and how I relate to the work and the world. Just as family, work, current events, and city life are reflected in the work, my Indian heritage plays an important, but nuanced role. Early on, I wanted it to be very clear that "an Indian painted this" but I now want it to be equally clear that all aspects have vacillating value. That being said, I do want my work to help me feel connected to the part of my life I know very little about. Having not grown up with that side of my family, there is a therapeutic aspect to what I'm doing that takes precedent to explicitly representing myself as an “Indian”. There are many equally important aspects that come into play: conversations with my children (about super heroes, Star Wars, or the state of the environment), architectural patterns that resemble the natural landscape of Arizona, construction zones, and the street, where you can see the layers created by previous work done there. Ultimately, I'd like to give everyone a common ground to get lost in where—in a stream of consciousness—we let the painting be what it wants to be.

Matthew holding open a page of his sketchbook.

Matthew holding open a page of his sketchbook.

Q&A with Matthew Kirk 

Questions by Jo Megas

Hi Matthew! Can you tell us about your work and process?
My process is a therapeutic one. 

I try to convey feelings. My feelings. 

I don't get a lot of time to work, usually not until I've put my boys to bed, and then I only have about an hour or two any given night and that studio time cuts into time I could be resting for the next day's endeavors. But it is worth it usually because drawing makes me happy. 

I usually am just processing my day, my day at work, my discussions with my coworkers and my children and family members. Things I may have been thinking about. There is a lot of super hero talk in my house, so super heroes and Star Wars. Trucks and animals. These are my subjects and I draw about these things. 

Because of my time constraints I like to use materials that give me an instant gratification. I want to get my feelings out, I don't want to mix a perfect color, or stretch a canvas. I use different tapes, and Sheetrock because the colors from the manufacturers are perfect, I am not trying to create some proprietary color or surface, I just want to hit the ground running and GO!

I make art because it's how I feel and this is why I couldn't go to school for art. I know I missed out on aspects of creating work, but I also believe that if it is meant to be, then those things I missed out on? I'll learn those things when I need to. But my advice to those other self taught artists out there is this : trust your guts and listen to your feelings. 

We only get a little time to work and make work. Don't waste your time if it doesn't feel right.

Thank you so much for sharing your work and talking with us!

To find out more about Matthew and his work, check out his website.