Inside this issue
Janet Matthews is a Maryland-based artist who explores psychological themes through evocative still life and landscape images. Her background in drawing and painting has influenced her approach to photography, as she often incorporates hands-on methods into her work.
My images combine an early love of drawing and painting with a long-standing passion for photographing the landscape. An important part of my portfolio continues to be about the interaction between water and light in, but I’m also experimenting with movement on land and even my own progress on foot through the landscape. Facebook Flickr
It’s fortunate for us that Janet Matthews was tasked to teach photography as part of her duties in art education. In the process of preparing the lessons, she fell in love with the medium. Unsurprisingly, it was the magic of traditional processes that prompted this, and while much of her current output is digital, you can see a legacy of the darkroom in it. She has moved from still life to explore man’s imprint on the landscape and to examine through its detail our own complexities of life and thought. New work interrogates the visual threads within a view and composites these into imaginary landscapes.
Would you like to start by telling readers a little about yourself – where you grew up, your education and early interests, and what that led you to do?
I grew up in suburban towns in Illinois, Michigan and Missouri in the U.S. My family moved to Maryland, near Washington DC, when I was a teenager, and I have lived here ever since.
Imagination and creative play with siblings and friends was an important part of my childhood. The making of things was often involved, and my mother, an avid crafter and DIYer, provided us with both inspiration and an abundance of craft materials to experiment with. I was particularly interested in learning to draw, and acquired many “How-To-Draw” books and drawing supplies as I grew up. I was also an insatiable reader. I have looked back to those times and explored ideas about memory, creativity and childhood in a few of my early series.
I attended the University of Maryland as a studio art major after graduating from high school. I dropped out freshman year but returned 10 years later to complete my B.A. degree, with a focus on painting and drawing.
How did photography come (back) into your life? What transformation did it effect?
After leaving the structured environment of the university program, I found it difficult to work as an artist independently, particularly in light of family responsibilities. My priorities had changed, and I found myself becoming active as a classroom volunteer at my children’s schools as well as developing an interest in education. When my younger son started first grade, I began to think about combining my interests by becoming an art teacher. I soon returned to the University of Maryland and entered an Art Education program.
After earning a degree in Art Education, I was hired to teach at a high school and was assigned a course load that included Photo 1. Although I had taken a few photography classes in college and had very basic darkroom experience, I realised I would need to refresh and extend my skills. I began attending continuing education courses at the Maryland Institute College of Art.