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  • Like Royalty among Us
  • Barb Matz (bio)

After viewing the works of the Oaxacan and Huichol peoples of Mexico, my leaning toward bold color found its home through the production of upclose-and-personal portraits of women created with patterned pieces. The challenge of presenting women's faces through individually painted pieces intrigued me.

I began by painting strips of paper with a wide variety of patterns from which to choose. After doing some pencil drawings of women's faces, rather than shading with pencil, I numbered each area with a value, 0–4. The zeroes were the lightest areas, growing progressively darker up to four. I then matched and cut the patterns from light to dark, gluing them together like a jigsaw puzzle. After the head was completed, it was glued on to the canvas as one piece. Other media such as beads, feathers, and pieces of freehand crossstitch were added to complete the collages.

I want the viewer to consider each woman: where is she from? What stories does she tell? How has her life experience been like or different from the observer's? Each woman portrayed comes from a different area of the world. How has her culture influenced what she sees? We get a sense of mystery and wonder from these portraits. There are clues to the origins of the women in the titles, but the full story of the women is to be completed through the imagination of the viewer.

The intent of the portraits is to portray powerful women of many circumstances. Sometimes the subtlety of their stories is drowned out in the clamor of instant headlines, but if we pay attention, we will find that they exist Like Royalty among Us. [End Page 121]

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Fig. 1.

Mythteller. Acrylic, free hand cross stitch, beads, ric rac on canvas.

[End Page 122]

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Fig. 2.

Her Hat Is a Galaxy. Acrylic, freehand cross-stitch, braided embroidery floss on canvas.

[End Page 123]

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Fig. 3.

Blest Be the Tie that Binds. Acrylic, cloth petals, print on acetate on canvas.

[End Page 124]

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Fig. 4.

Karnival!. Acrylic, freehand cross-stitch, feathers, beads on canvas.

[End Page 125]

Barb Matz

Barb Matz is a freelance artist and a middle school art teacher who instructs students in drawing, painting, mixed media, and clay. She is a founding member of the nonprofit Riverwalk Arts Quarter in Northfield, Minnesota, the mission of which is to promote local artists. Currently she is working on a mixed media series about the Deep South.



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pp. 121-125
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