Alumni Stories

Matt Sheridan

MFA 08 Art

When asked to recall the most enduring take-away from his ArtCenter education, Matt Sheridan (MFA, Grad Art) had this to say: “Fight for what you believe in and prove your haters wrong every moment of every day — quietly — so the work can speak for itself.”

And while the arresting images in Sheridan’s large-scale paintings-in-motion, often displayed in public locations around the globe, are anything but quiet, they speak volumes about the artist who created them. Sheridan’s ideas about connection and communication at the crossroads of traditional and digital culture informing his work are complex and compelling. With that in mind, we set out to illuminate Sheridan’s life and work as a Los Angeles-based artist working on a global canvas, with the above Change/Makers video profile and his riveting answers to the questions below.

Most recently, Sheridan has been awarded a fully-funded residency at Matsudo PARADISE AIR (funded by the Japanese Ministry of Culture), that will take him to Japan from December 15, 2014 to February 13, 2015. He is also currently under consideration for a Fulbright grant to return to Brazil in fall 2015. And his exhibition of prints and video opened at TW Fine Art in Brisbane, Australia on December 1.

Ultimately my work acts as a catalyst: its participants are the ones with the power to change the world, but only if the work inspires them to do so.

ArtCenter: In general, how would you describe your career or creative practice as it exists today?

Matt Sheridan: My creative practice as it relates to my “paintings-in-motion” is nomadic, modular and based in both physical and immaterial action while confrontationally oblique in its abstraction, aiming to be what it does.

AC: Can you describe one (or two) recent project(s) completed in the last 1-3 years that have been especially noteworthy?

MS: Inspired by my travel experiences, Curse of the Paper Tigers (2011) was a Los Angeles-based installation in the round addressing conflicts between shared Chinese and American desires; likewise, my most recent project — Contours of Belief (2014) — was about how the movements and actions of Brazilian Candomblé influence urban planning in Salvador da Bahia.

AC: What have you been doing personally since you left ArtCenter?

MS: I taught animation for 3 semesters at NYU/TischAsia in Singapore, then traveled to China, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Italy, Germany and the UK, with travel + shows in India, Finland, France, Brazil, Russia, New York and Miami.

AC: What has been your proudest professional achievement so far? Personal achievement?

MS: My proudest professional achievement was bringing it all back home to LA to install Curse of the Paper Tigers at fellow ACCD alumnus Michael Rey’s (now-defunct) Chinatown kunsthalle JB JURVE back in 2011. Personally, it’s been maintaining friendships established at ACCD while building new relationships via residency programs and special projects, all of whom I try to reconnect with and cross-pollinate when I can.

AC: What do you think the role of an artist is in the 21st Century?

MS: To relocate, redefine and rematerialize spirituality in the age of the algorithm.

My recent project Contours of Belief addresses this using the form of a counterclockwise trance — referencing the actions and colors of Candomblé — creating a circle projected as a triangle across the walls of a quadrilateral surrounding a torqued square tarpaulin with projections on top and underneath. The live, looped audio design reinforces the trance-like content.

AC: Who are your biggest creative influences or mentors?

MS: Prince, Nikola Tesla, Chuck Jones, James Rosenquist, Diana Thater, M.I.A., Helio Oiticica, Friedrich Nietzsche, Queen, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Tony Stark and Edmond Dantes

AC: Do you think it’s possible to create positive change in the world through your work? If so, how do you hope to do so?

MS: Yes, I think changing the way the world is experienced by others is possible, as long as my work has its own language which challenges ideologies taken for granted. Ultimately my work acts as a catalyst: its participants are the ones with the power to change the world, but only if the work inspires them to do so. Being an enthusiast myself, I aim for the takeaway from each project to be a thrilling and inspiring call to constructively creative action for each individual viewer/participant; that’s how they can each finish the work in the real world.

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