WSU student artist recognized

Maia Gabriel | Evergreen reporter

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Jonathan Matteson, a WSU junior fine arts major, is the winner of the 2014 Northwest Watercolor Foundation Gold Grant Scholarship and John Ringen Award which are open to any undergraduate art major in Idaho, Oregon or Washington.

Before enrolling as a student at the university, Jonathan discovered his passion in art while creating graphic design ads. He worked in the marketing industry for 15 years.

Jonathan, his wife, and two children moved from Vancouver to Pullman as a result of his decision. While he pursues a bachelor’s degree in fine arts his wife is earning her degree in English.

“We had told our children to chase their passions,” he said. “We said, ‘We need to be chasing ours.’ I wanted to be a good example.”

At 37 years old, Jonathan said now is the best time for him to be in school because his goals are clear and he is ready to absorb information.

James Matteson, Jonathan’s father, said Jonathan is open to others critiquing his art.

“He comes back to things he’s done after the passions of the moment of creation are over and looks at what he’s done and critically evaluates it,” James said.  “He actually cares about how people respond to what he’s done.”

James said his son has the makings of a great instructor because he wants to understand what he is teaching.

Jonathan already has experience in the education field after teaching painting and drawing to children studying in grades seven through 12 at Cougar Quest last summer.

Because of his experience, he said his goal after graduation is to earn a master’s degree and be a middle school art teacher. He said the response middle school students have to art is what attracts him to teaching.

“They’re very honest about their feelings,” he said. “They have optimism about education. They’re moldable and they’ll engage in discussion. I think I connect with them because I accept where they’re at and they accept where I’m at.”

He said he wants to be a good example to his students, which is why it was important for him to pursue his education before he teaches. While studying, his abstract paintings remain a point of focus.

Jonathan enjoys abstract art because it steers clear of political and social images he said. It requires the audience to use their imagination.

“The image doesn’t exist before you make it,” he said. “It requires people to use a bit of their creativity to understand it.”

Jonathan said he wants to sensitize his audience through art.

“You get bombarded with images now a days and rarely you reflect on the images you are looking at,” he said. “Art is a good way to practice reflecting on things and appreciating color, line, texture.”

Thom Brown, the professor chair of the fine arts department, has reviewed Jonathan’s  art. He said his experience with art and music can be collaborated together to create a rich territory.

Art is in everything, Jonathan said. Even tying shoelaces is an act of art.

“It affects every part of your life,” he said. “It influences everything. The way you cook and dress—everything.”

Art makes one more conscience of colors and textures, he said.  It opens the ear to hearing individual instruments instead of the band as a whole.

Following this belief, Bradley Ard, an instructor in the School of Music, displayed Jonathan’s art during Ard’s guitar performance on Tuesday.

“(Art is) essential for life,” he said. “I hope to let them have a place of expression. They need that in their life.”