We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Matyas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Balance is everything! I’m a Libra so it’s always been important to me, but balancing the elements of your life is what can make or break your success. Being an artist, it may appear that one can work whenever they like. But I find many other pressing responsibilities vying for my attention each day. I visualize the balance in blocks of time. Large items can be things that either take a long time or have utmost importance. Often, you need to do both in a single day, such as helping your kids with a project and meeting an important application deadline. To accomplish both you need to ask yourself what time of day could each be done? How long might each task take and what could go wrong? It’s a never-ending task of deciding what to do when, and how to accomplish each. The elements of an artistic life also include relaxation, with time to dream, to play, and to make mistakes. It’s necessary to leave spaces in the work of your life, so that empty moments can become space for inspiration.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Mine has been a road of experience coupled with education. I got my start in photography after finishing a degree in journalism. I worked for several local publications doing both the writing and photography. I also did whatever I could commercially; working on a campaign, working for the girls scouts, and, eventually, working for Save the Children in Mexico. That’s where my experiences led me to fine art photography. Although I was hired to translate and do reports for the organization, I had the freedom to photograph in all areas of their work. It was enlightening. And my photos changed. They became less reportage and more poetic. I decided to work towards an MFA in photography. That’s where I learned about the process of art making, and how to involve it in my life. Since then, I’ve discovered that my best work is always something that I’ve lived. For my book about Mexico, “Sol y Tierra/Sun and Earth,” I couldn’t have done it without spending a lot of time with the people there. And other projects of mine are family based – “Passing Traits” is about motherhood, time and change, “With Regards,” is about loss of family members and memory, and “I Am My Ancestors,” is a conceptual, narrative project which explores ancestral connections, tradition, change and immigration. One thing leads to another – it’s all connected.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Assuming that this friend has similar interests to mine, I would probably take them hiking – say to the Superstitions, or a trail off of Route 87. Or – maybe we’d go kayaking on the lower Salt River. Then, of course, we’d be starving so I’d bring them to a good Mexican restaurant, like Los Sombreros in Scottsdale. But since they’re here for a week, we’d have time to visit Southeastern Arizona. We could go birding along the San Pedro River, hike in the Chiricahua Mountains, and stop by the local wineries nearby.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My earliest recognition of the importance of art making goes back to when I was four. I won the finger-painting contest for girls in my pre-school. Later, still a kid, I loved looking through my parent’s Time-Life books on each decade of the 20th century. I was fascinated with the images. It was my initiation into photography. As a teen, I visited the Art Institute in Chicago several times, which cemented my feelings of awe about art. Also, I had some important art teachers. In grade school, the one art teacher was a creative woman who always encouraged me to express myself. My high school art teacher did too. But of course, my MFA committee at Arizona State University were the people who really guided me into my current art practice. I have them to thank, along with other students there, for teaching me the process of not only art making, but how to live a creative life.