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BEYOND THE STREETS on PAPER: 10 Questions with Matt McCormick

"Cowboys are really interesting for a variety of reasons," Matt McCormick told Hypebeast earlier this year. "They started for me when I was a child as the ultimate example of what 'a man' should be, hardened by the elements, able to defend and support themselves from the land and their bare hands." Through this exploration, McCormick has been able to both demystify and create dichotomies of the American cowboy and the fables of manhood. His works have always had the quality of looking deep into the cult-followings and folklores of celebrity and mythic realms by which we create our histories, and for the BEYOND THE STREETS on PAPER exhibition, McCormick created a series of works that examined the American West and frontier "man" with text and figurative landscapes. 

Has the past year impacted or influenced your work in any way? How so?

I think the events of the last year have crept into the work in subtle almost subliminal ways. I wouldn’t say there was any outright reference to the ongoing travesties of the pandemic but its hard to ever mentally escape it. As far as my daily process, I have been very fortunate to not really have anything change. I never stopped going to my studio, but I was able to be more isolated and more focused than ever due to not having the rest of my studio team coming in.

How has the mood of your most recent work changed or shifted from past work we’ve seen?
My last series of paintings was definitely a turn toward a far more mellow almost soothing set of paintings. Overviews of city lights and sunsets as opposed to tornados and dynamic cowboys.

What would you say is the medium that has defined your work as an artist?  And when was the last time you produced works on paper?
I try to not be defined by anyone medium. I tend to allow the subject or the individual work dictate the materials used. My output is pretty even split between oil paintings on canvas, charcoal works on paper, printed photographs, as well as lot of other objects and clothing.

What does working on paper look like for you?
Generally pretty straightforward traditional charcoal on paper, but one of my more known series involves charcoal drawings on top of inkjet printed photos.

It seems like in the past year artists everywhere quite literally went back to the “drawing board.” What was that experience like for you as an artist or an individual?
That's something I’m constantly going through. About once a month I have a meltdown of sorts and have to completely reevaluate everything I make. Its relatively chaotic in my head, so I have to go to the “drawing board” dive into my influences and build it all back up.

What does urgency mean to you?
I always feel an urgency to keep pushing forward.

Has your relationship with time changed at all in regards to creating?
Not especially.

What are some new hobbies or skills you cultivated in the past year that you have continued to keep up? 
I’m pretty obsessive in the studio. Here about 6 days a week. So most of my energy just goes toward what I’m trying to achieve in here. The time I’m not here I tend to want to just relax at home with my girlfriend and my dogs.

Any playlists or podcasts you listened to while making your works on paper?

BEYOND THE STREETS ON PAPER is on view at the Southampton Arts Center in  Southampton, New York through August 28, 2021