Tiffany Matheson had a whole different career in business before she found herself through art, quickly developing a practice that doesn’t fit in a box: She’s a maker, a skilled fabricator and a multi-dimensional artist with a DIY diligence, who juggles sculptural installations, performance art and whatever’s next.
We were lucky enough to catch Matheson for a millisecond between projects to answer the Colorado Creatives questionnaire.
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?
Tiffany Matheson: I find inspiration in the spaces between, when all is quiet and my mind has the freedom to wonder. I am greatly attracted to light, texture, sound, color, the natural world and outer space, and am captivated by geometry and mathematics, which pervade our existence. With a formal education in biology, I conceptualize as a scientist and generate work through the creative filter of an artist. Oftentimes ideas for new work begin when my curiosity or sense of play is piqued. I also love making anything related to flowers.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
Being rather introverted, I prefer the intimacy and connection that come from time spent time one-on-one over hosting a party. I’d love to sit and listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson say cool space stuff over a glass of Malbec and tapas; to stroll through a botanic garden with Diana Gabaldon while chatting about science and literature, and gushing over all things Scottish; and lastly, to be at home playing cards and laughing with my grandfather Maurice, who passed a couple of years ago. His love, joy and patience were integral to my understanding of paternal love, and I miss him dearly. I’m going to add Yayoi Kusama as a fourth, because it’s impossible not to.
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?
I started making art just a few years ago, and I am still enamored with the fact that I have finally found my tribe. The sense of belonging that comes from having a pool of like-minded weirdos to connect and build friendships with is incalculable, and I look forward to meeting more members as time goes on. As I am still becoming better acquainted with the local creative community, it’s too early to express definitively what flaws exist.
How about globally?
One of the best things I have observed about creatives is their ability to generate discussion around topics that many see as taboo or difficult to approach. This provides artists with a powerful platform that we are responsible to use for the benefit of humankind. A negative global trend that I have noticed is that women tend to be underrepresented in the arts. Let’s go, Guerrilla Girls, and get this taken care of!
You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?
I had to try hard to rein it in answering this question, as there is so much life still to be lived. Although I am relatively well traveled, I have an adventurous spirit and would enjoy the opportunity to see more of the world, with visits to India and Morocco being high on the list. I would like to further my yoga practice, try scuba diving and learn a martial art. I would like to become a better gardener, learn more about growing my own food, and to spread the primal joy and spiritual therapy that comes from digging in the dirt for sustenance with others. I always relish the chance to learn how to cook with new flavors and spices. My long-term life plans include successfully building an off-grid Earthship — where I can practice food fermentation and preservation with homegrown produce, and which wouldn’t be complete without a cheese cave.
What’s your dream project?
This felt like an impossible question, as I don’t think there is a singular project that could possibly fill every dream, especially for a dreamer. I love creating work that holds a surprise for the viewer, something unexpected that only the curious find, and I love it when I can engage as many senses as possible. I also greatly enjoy working on environmental-protection and social-justice projects.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
As a native, I absolutely love Denver. I left Colorado for a few years in my twenties while pursuing a career on the East Coast and always felt a longing for home. Denver is growing into a major metropolitan city, and I appreciate all of the culture that brings despite the negative aspects that accompany urban change.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
As I still have many Colorado Creatives to meet, I’m going to go with the first working artist that comes to mind whom I know and admire, and at the forefront is Rian Kerrane. She somehow manages to balance work, family and travel, all while creating a staggering amount of art, and is always on the go producing, sharing and teaching. She has brought insight and inspiration to my life and practice. Recently I’ve also been drooling over the synergy of art and music created by Nathan Hall, and can’t wait to see what magic he has in store for the future.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I recently wandered among guests at Claude Haus in botanical performance as a ten-foot diameter, animatronic flower at a harvest moon event. I was subcontracted to fabricate and install work at Republic Plaza as part of Rian Kerrane’s mural, “The Oscar Wallpaper,” in conjunction with the Downtown Denver Alleyways Project. In early January, I’ll be installing new work at the McNichols Building as an excited recent inductee of the Pink Progression collective.
Over the next several months, I will be working on a commission for a local museum to create a sculptural triptych with a psychedelic floral theme for an event taking place next summer. I am currently contemplating ideas for my solo exhibition next June at Pirate: Contemporary Art for the first time on the larger, full-member side of the gallery. As a recent new homeowner, I will also be slowly painting, repairing and tinkering around the house, and figuring out the best spot for next year’s vegetable garden.
Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
This is one of the easier questions, as I immediately thought of Scottie Burgess, who has a very special place in my heart. I would like to see his work more in the public art sector, as I believe he has great things to offer.
See “Synthetic Nature,” an installation created by Tiffany Matheson, Travis Powell and Ian Wagner, at Natura Obscura: An Immersive Arts Experience, open daily except Mondays through December 29 at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, 1000 Englewood Parkway, Englewood. Visit the website to reserve tickets, $10 to $20.
Learn more about Tiffany Matheson and her work on Facebook.