Fearless in art with the focus of beauty and communication, there is a message to be heard and a story to be told by all .  A wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and teacher are hats in which Brenda Matea wears but being an artist seems to be her loudest voice.  She is a believer in many things including her beliefs and passion in following her Christ and the Bible.  This is what defines everything she does and touches the deepest part of who she is.

“Recently, I am finding that who I am is best communicated to the world in my art. I believe in something bigger than myself so the legacy I want to leave as a mark on life is hope and possibility. I want people to know that if they look, there is a beautiful story unfolding in all of life with a Creator involved.”

In college, Brenda began pursuing a museum career and working in the art field for many years. Although she was involved with art daily she never created art herself and eventually chose a different career while growing her family. It wasn’t until her children had “left the nest” when she became an artist.  Her husband had begun racing bikes and with more freedom in time for herself and him, her creativity burst in a turning point that changed her life.

“In 2012 my husband gave me a digital camera. I didn’t race so he gave me the camera to capture images of the events. One of the racers in his club was an art major and he said my photography was beautiful and reminded him of some famous photographers. He encouraged me to study.  I never thought of photography as art before so I started studying by looking at a lot of art photography, studying the history of photography. I informally practiced color, line, shape, form, texture and space and creating balanced compositions. I did photography challenges on social media for practice. Many of the challenges were designed to help me “find” myself as a photographer.”

A few years had passed and in 2015 Brenda’s husband gave her an iPhone replacing her digital camera. She experimented with images from their vacations and told stories with her photographs only  pondering the potential in telling their vacation stories with a single image. Having her new technology and the ability to download Apps that enticed her to experimented she was able to accomplish the stories she set out to create.

“I showed my images to a small gallery in Los Olivos as we journeyed home from a summer trip in central California. The owner fell in love with my images. She commissioned my first 3 pieces and hung them in her small gallery in the Fall of 2015. I have been calling myself an “artist”, telling my stories, and hanging art in small galleries ever since.”

Brenda is inspired by artist like Man Ray, Frida Kahlo, Imogen Cunningham, Linder Sterling, and Francesca Woodman. However, there are two artists in particular that have influenced her daily contribution to the art world and as an artist. Harry Callahan and Terry Braunstein play a big part in her inspiration that influenced some of her very first works.  When she saw the photographs from Harry Callahan and his daily life, she realized that her life too could be seen as art.

“Harry Callahan took the experimental works I was embracing by Man Ray to a personal level and I decided to experiment with the visual world that was my own life. I happened on the second artist, Terry Braunstein, a photomontage artist based in Long Beach, when I attended an Artist Talk presenting her collage work at the Long Beach Museum of Art. The artist walked us through the museum telling the stories of each work on display. I was never the same after that talk. That was the day I embraced collage and the day I realized my stories were worth telling.”

Brenda Matea always uses her iPhone and the apps that help her with the artistic journey in telling stories through her pieces.  She always includes gifts from nature and is a genius in making her art look as if she had used photoshop and has truly honed her techniques in the digital world of photography.  

“My phone has so much potential and provides mobility. I can create art anywhere and tell my story anytime. I always have flowers in my art. I read a poem by Rumi, “Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.” I place flowers in my images to mark the blessings in my life. Someone recently commented that an image I created “had Brenda written all over it.” I was pleased to think that my voice is so clearly expressed in my art that it is a reflection of me. I see my art as hopeful and romantic and dreamy. Beautiful in the way you would imagine something could be, how you imagine a possibility. Someone said of my art once, ‘It’s okay to be sad and angry. But don’t forget that there are still things like this in the world. See how Brenda uses her imagination to show you beauty on top of beauty? Just pretend for a moment that this is real and everything else is made-up. Then breathe.’”

Brenda doesn’t believe that the world ever existed without art. She sees beauty in everything and believes that artists can help the world by being a catalyst for positive change. She passionately shares that art is the voice of the artist and is true to the time the artist lives and expresses experiences from the world around them.

“Art and artists can inspire others and help them see. With intention, I highlight blessings in my life. It’s not how everybody helps but it’s my hopeful contribution. Beauty is what I hope people see in the world when they look at my images.  In the beginning, God created, wanting to tell a story of Love by creating earth and people and all living things, just look at a flower! On earth, art is an extension of the voices of a people telling the stories of the culture living in a time and place. Look around and remember the arts includes much more than fine art.”

Creativity and beauty surrounds us daily and our lives are enhanced by architecture, fashion, film, literature, music, dance. When Brenda was in middle school, the theatre arts teacher had a sign on her wall that she loves and remembers often.  It said, “Without ART, the earth would be EH”.

To believe in something makes things real and if you can take something real and tell a story through a single image you have invented a special communication with the Earth and creation.  Brenda Matea has changed the way photography is made in the the fine arts world and continues to produce stunning images that touch the heart of many who follow her.  

Written By Skye Amber Sweet
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