Seizing the Moment: Three Emerging Millennial Artists–Kayla Mattes
Curator’s EssayLuiza CaldariMariana Pinar Castellano
Kayla Mattes
Blue Screen of Death, 2018
53″ x 43″

Kayla Mattes’ work is intertwined with digital culture, using tapestry as a means to recreate digital pixels while also embracing the history, craft, technology, and feminist discourse embedded within the act of weaving. “I’m materially invested in the convergence of the fields of weaving and technology, on a structural level, and in terms of gender,” says Mattes. “I see my tapestries as archives from the digital realm, with each pixel realized as material through the woven grid. Distilling the digital lexicon into woven threads coalesces the two fields of weaving and technology into a singular framework that becomes inherently politically loaded, especially when overtly addressing specific moments in contemporary American politics.”

Computer-driven concepts and weaving often go hand in hand; a loom is arguably the first computer system. However, Mattes’ execution and visual language is unique to her own generational and personal experiences. “My work is imbued with subtle jokes and wordplay and tests the possibility of humor as a tool for disruption.” Through candy-colored landscapes, Mattes, in her words, “builds contradictions on the gravity of our reality.” Her tapestries depict a gamut of imagery pulled from our current digital lives, from emojis to tweets to technicolor pie-charts, all skillfully woven together. “Perhaps it’s unsettling, or maybe it makes the horrors of issues such as the climate crisis and a fascist president a little bit easier to process,” Mattes says.

Kayla Mattes
Firewall, 2019
108″ x 108″
Kayla Mattes
Firewall, Detail. 2019
108″ x 108″
Kayla Mattes
Firewall, Detail. 2018
67″ x 33″
Kayla Mattes
I WILL NOT, 2018
67″ x 33″
Kayla Mattes
My Tabs, 2019
8″ x 84″
Kayla Mattes
Response to Trump Jr.’s Comments About Syrian Refugees, 2019
84″ x 72″
Kayla Mattes
Response to Trump Jr.’s Comments About Syrian Refugees, Detail. 2019
84″ x 72″
Kayla Mattes standing next to Firewall.