We had the good fortune of connecting with Matthew Marshall and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Matthew, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born in Mesa and raised in the suburbs of Chandler. My Mom’s family immigrated from Austria after WW2 and eventually settled in Phoenix in the 60s’. Growing up in an immigrant family undermined any sense of “belonging” I felt growing up in Chandler. In a way, this gave me a sense of freedom knowing that my identity is not tied to the physical space I occupied. This detachment is a driving force in the artwork I make. Chandler is a very young place, a city that strived for convenience and comfort over the preservation of history and culture. This leaves a vacuum in terms of cultural identity, a place where almost everyone is from somewhere else. This understanding gave me permission to inject my own narratives and questions into the conversation about who I am and where I am “from.” I believe my upbringing has given me a unique understanding of what it means to be an American, one that I hope to express artistically in a way that can facilitate conversation and build empathy.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a painter through and through. I was encouraged by my high school art teacher (RIP Mr. Chen) to pick up a brush at 17 and I have been chasing the dream ever since. I graduated with my BFA fromArizona State in 2014 and was given the chance to do an artist residency in New Delhi, India in 2016. My career has come with peaks and some low valleys, most notably when I was falsely arrested in 2018. At the time I worked as a kindergarten and first grade art teacher, bouncing between two schools, teaching 180 kids a day to gain full time employment. I was living in a rougher neighborhood with my girlfriend (now wife) when I was mistaken for someone who had committed an assault in the area. This was a startling moment in my life. I was arrested on the same beat that my dad worked as a police officer when he was my age. After 14 hours in jail I plead not guilty and was put back on the street without sleep, food or my phone. Eventually the charges were dropped, but this moment caused me to be temporarily fired from my job which cost our apartment, health insurance and my studio. It took me 7 months to pick up a paint brush again. The most important part of my artistic career is that I am still here. Through thick and thin I have shown up to do what I believe I was made for. Will it pay off in the end? I have no idea yet, but I’ll be here to see it through.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh man, you drive an hour or two from the city and you have some of the prettiest country in the United States. I would definitely go camping near the rim or take them for beer and sandwiches at Indian Gardens in Oak Creek. Another amazing spot is the old mission south of Tucson, San Xavier del Bac. In the city I would take them to the Heard Museum. I think it is very necessary to understand where we are and who’s land we are guests on.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am dedicating this to my wife Sara. Her ability to persevere with grace has been a beacon in the dark and inspires me to be the best version of myself. I want to also thank my family and friends who have supported my dreams for so long. Lastly, to those I’ve loved and lost, I carry you in my steps and breath.