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Women's History Month Artist Spotlight: Danae Mattes

danae mattes creating where the river widens

Danae Mattes was born in Rochester, Pennsylvania. She spent time playing outside in the forest and often says that the woods were her first art studio. Being able to engage with and play in nature was very formative for her artwork and for her life. Mattes earned her BFA from Edinboro State University in 1980 followed by her MFA from Long Beach State University in 1984. Mattes has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally, particularly in Germany, where she has held numerous fellowships and where a number of commissioned works can be found.

As an artist, Mattes works with untraditional, natural materials to create riveting and masterful artworks of organic abstraction. Mattes’s evaporation pools explore the properties of water when mixed with earth, and our physical and emotional relationship to such natural phenomena. Mattes, long fascinated by water, feels that a river’s state of flux is a metaphor for life, as change is a constant of the human experience. During her time in Germany, Mattes's studio was situated on the banks of a river, where she became especially fascinated with the movement of the water, the tides, and the rhythms of the year that affected the river.

Danae Mattes Where the River Widens

Mattes’s evaporation pool artworks, created from primarily clay and water, evolve and transform over the course of about three months, as the materials settle and congeal, and the water evaporates. The continuous evolution in the first weeks gives the work a dynamic sense of tension and transition as surface textures emerge such as rivulets, cracks, and deep crevices. Mattes enjoys experiencing the universality of water and showcases our own personal needs for water by creating artworks that eventually become devoid of it.

Danae Mattes currently has an exhibition open at the BYU Museum of Art entitled Where the River Widens. See this exquisite exhibition through October 19, 2019 at the MOA.