"if you have to explain it over and over then there's no real reason to have painted it in the first place. I've said it all with my brush." -Matt Bearden
Matthew Bearden attended Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, earning a B.A. in Commercial Art in 1992. Continuing to explore studio painting, Bearden realized this was the way he wanted to direct his creative energy. He continued this course of study at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Though he enjoyed the creative environment, Matt left the Institute in search of the freedom to develop his own style of painting.
Matthew designed his high school yearbook cover incorporating the image of an Osage Warrior.
"My initial interest in Native subject matter started with the discovery of Jerome Tiger."
That interest continued to be influenced by the Cherokee culture in the Tahlequah area. Matthew strives to represent his subjects' dress and action as accurately as possible but also allows his creativity to go beyond a strict adherence to established rules. The Southern Plains people have been a passion of Matt's. It is the plains culture that is revealed when he reaches within. Like most artists who have an established style, Matt searches for ways to push his style and struggles with subject matter.
"I've worked with subjects other than people but I keep coming back to my Native roots. The Osages have also been a strong influence in my painting. They have been able to keep a strong grasp on their old ways and their summer dances are a high point of interest in my hometown."
Among Bearden's favorite painters are Francis Bacon, Salvador Dali and the Flemish painters. These may appear to be three different and broad influences but a close look at Matthew's painting style reveals the same acute observation of nature and nature's forms, including the human body. Matt's attention to detail, use of bright colors and his highly developed technique create an intensity that draws the viewer to his canvas. It is that intensity and strength, quietly contained in his portrait subjects that keeps the viewers eyes locked with those starring back.
"I enjoy getting feedback about my work, praise and constructive criticism equally. It's always great to hear someone try to explain my painting because it's usually way off from my intended expression. Sometimes it's better to go with what they think it means rather than explaining what intended."
In 2006, Matthew was the featured artist at the Tulsa Indian Art Festival. In 2005, he was awarded Best of Show at Red Earth Festival, Oklahoma City, OK and the Eiteljorg Museum Show, Indianapolis, Indiana. Other juried shows; The Trail of Tears Art Show, Tahlequah, OK, Indian Summer Festival, Bartlesville, OK, SWAIA Indian Market, Santa Fe, NM, the Dallas Indian Art Festival. Solo Exhibits include: 2007 Paintings by Matthew Bearden, Southern Plains Indian Museum, Anadarko, OK, 2000 "Mystic Warriors" Bath House Cultural Center, Dallas, Texas and the Omniplex, Oklahoma City OK. Group Shows: Art from Indian Territory 2007: The state of being American Indian, traveling exhibit, The Common Ground, NY, NY, and "Connected Voices: Five Prominent Native American Artists", City Arts Center, OKC, OK. His commercial credits include the book cover for Red Cloud, University of Oklahoma Press, and the Winds of Change, autumn 2001 issue. Media interviews include:
. 2003 KFOR OKC Galen Culver "Is this a great state or what?" segment
. 2000 featured on Karen Keith's Oklahoma Living on KJRH
. 1996 KJRH Tulsa The Oklahoma Traveler-Scott Thompson, about his mural "Osage Thunder" located in downtown Hominy.
Matthew Bearden hails from Hominy, Oklahoma and is a member of the Citizen Band Potawatomi Nation. He also has a family history that includes Kickapoo, Blackfoot and Lakota Sioux ancestry. He is one of three children; a brother Mark, 2 sisters, Bobbye and Becky, born to Burt and Mary Bearden. His father, Burt served as a Marine in Korea. His mother graduated from Chilocco Indian School and pursued a career in Nursing. His maternal family ties include the legendary athlete Jim Thorpe. In June of 2007, Matt married Camden Carr.
Prices of work for sale can be obtained from the Oklahoma Indian Arts and Crafts Cooperative's Museum Store at 405-247-6221.
After the exhibit closes, contact Matthew Bearden at 918-694-1417 or firstname.lastname@example.org