paper cutout self portrait

When acquaintances and students ask Matthew Laurence how he ended up in the field of Art, his response is with one word: ‘glue’. No, he doesn’t sniff glue and pretend to be an artist in order to have access to the substance. Instead, his father’s occupation as a purchasing agent to an adhesive company was the catalyst to Matthew’s involvement within this field. At the start to each year in elementary school, Matthew’s father would send him to school with a few dozen bottles of glue to present to the teacher to supply the Arts and Crafts class.

As the year progressed in elementary school, Matthew recalled during Art lessons the teacher praised him on how wonderful his artwork was developing. Then the teacher would say, “Thank your dad for the glue for this project”. At the time, Matthew thought there was an immense talent from all the praise the teacher was giving him. This extra praise from the instructor provided Matthew with a comfort level to explore ideas and pursue directions without being concerned of any negative repercussions. He started to use a sketchbook at home and made drawings of the real and imaginary environment. Matthew remembers how space and time would dissolve away when he was practicing Art. There was a felt peace and lightness within that could only be described as a moving meditation.

Matthew participated in every Art class that his schedule allowed in high school. During his senior year, his high school offered Matthew a scholarship to take a course in figure drawing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Every Sunday for two months, Matthew would live the life of an art student. After that experience, Matthew knew Art was something that he wanted to continue with in some capacity throughout the rest of his life. After high school, Matthew was unsure which direction to take moving forward, so he attended Moraine Valley Community College. Matthew continued on that course of action filling his schedule with the pre-requisites to complete an Associate degree in Arts (AA).

During that time, he began to capture ideas using a camera. He loved taking pictures, developing the images in the dark room and using the latent images as sources to other forms of expressions such as painting and printmaking. Matthew was nearing the completion to his AA, but was still unable to decide what to pursue within the field of Art. An opportunity presented itself when a study abroad program to England was offered a semester before completing his AA. Living within and traveling to fourteen countries in Eastern and Western Europe opened Matthew’s worldview and a love of exploration.

Upon his return from Europe, Matthew enrolled into the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program at SAIC. His previous experience from the course taken during high school resonated and was a factor in continuing his education in art at SAIC. During this time Matthew took advantage of the facilities to learn further in photography, printmaking, and ceramics. In addition, he was introduced to electronics, construction, and digital design. Matthew began to create light boxes with multiple layers of Plexiglas, stain glass, airbrush transitions, and photo transparencies. Armed with a table saw and a art studio within the center of the loop in Chicago, Matthew produced all of the light box work as well as the stain glass framed work found within the ‘mixed media’ section of this website.

In 1998, Matthew attained a BFA and completed the Art Education program at SAIC. He began his career in Art education teaching darkroom photography and studio art within the Chicago Public School system. Matthew was able to share his love for Art with high school students and use his time during summer holidays to travel and expand upon his passion with photography as presented within the ‘photography’ section of this website.

In 2004, Matthew decided it was time for a change and relocated to the other side of the world in Singapore to teach art at a international school. During this period, most of Matthew’s creations were in the form of photographic work from travels within Asia, Africa, and Oceania. He also continued to experiment in watercolor, acrylic, oil, and mixed media work.

Most of Matthew’s inspiration stems from a wide range of artists and art styles. Artists such as Edward Hopper, Alphonse Mucha, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Jerry Uelsmann, and Henri Cartier-Bresson are ever present on Matthew’s mind. Hopper’s figures convey the emotive use of isolation, and contradicting this with a harmony within the environment through curvaceous flowing lines of Mucha’s designs. Macintosh’s integrated environments use a multitude of media and materials to juxtaposing subject matter in Uelsmann’s photographs. Continually keeping an eye out for the ‘decisive moment, which make Cartier-Bresson’s photographs so captivating and inspiring. These elements are the structural bases to which Matthew formulates his artwork.    

In addition to living abroad in Singapore, Matthew has returned to Europe to live in Munich, Germany and also Shanghai, China. Matthew fondly recalls his time living in these vibrant cultures, but always had left his heart in Singapore. In 2013, Matthew and his family relocated back to Singapore and are excited to be back in this cultural melting pot.

Currently Matthew is integrating the realism of previous painting styles with the abstract photographic work from his ‘happenstance’ series to something more loosely structured. Eventually, he intends to move back into installation pieces and develop further with the light boxes. In the meantime, Matthew’s focus will be on the human form, old verses new, and issues on the sustainability of the planet.