Matt Corones sees color in a new way

Meet Ames Artist + Visual Designer Matt Corones

Matt Corones’ entire art career has been focused on one idea – playing off multiple viewing angles and dimensions, creating a kind of art called ‘hyperrealism’.  This is art that centers around the nature of interpretation.

“Take for example Bernini’s Elephant and Obelisk sculpture.  The elephant is smiling from one angle and suddenly frowning when you take a different perspective.  For me, I do this with color.”

As a native to Ames, Matt is a full-time artist working in various mediums from painting, mixed media, video, textiles, and photography.  His education background spans from creating art in kindergarten, all the way to receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cooper Union (in NYC, 2003), followed by a Master of Fine Arts in integrated visual arts from Iowa State University (2012).

I met up recently with Matt to discover his artistic process, what he stands for as an artist, and what he believes is working in the Iowa arts community (with a special call for Iowans to buy more art).

Talk about your background and career in the arts.

I realize I’ve been creating art since kindergarten, but was significantly influenced during my high school years by my teacher (shout out to Mrs. Gugel at Ames High School).  It was the ONLY class I liked since I don’t read super well.  When the books got bigger, my reading stayed the same and I turned to art class.

Later, my high school would participate and enter national art shows, competing against private high schools for the arts.  We kept winning money and scholarships.  It was through this that I applied and was selected to Cooper Union Art School, located in New York City’s East Village.

I had never been to New York until I arrived there for my first week of school.  My first thoughts of the Big Apple was, ‘look at all these buildings…it’s like corn but instead rows of buildings’.  I functioned and survived, and quickly got back to Iowa.  Some argue that Iowa is boring with all the farmland, but I find the space allows me to creatively live and plays a part in the work I create.

What is unique about your life, your art, and the process?

I feel like we are all deserving of God’s love.  I like the idea that if you catch their eyes, their hearts and minds will follow.  My work is generous and easy to engage with visually.  I want to reach the viewer through formal properties of color and composition to begin the process of sharing content.

I am currently making paintings of meteorites with a marbling technique that employs principles of fluid dynamics and hyperspectral paint pallet that function with unique color interactions under fluorescent lighting.

What does a typical day look like?

Every day is a new day.  Two days ago I woke up in the afternoon.  Today, I woke up at 6 in the morning–(laughing) there is no normal routine.  I typically work until I’m out of canvas and paint!  Best time to paint?  Usually late afternoon and night.  I use the daylight to establish the palette, and can paint at night since I know the colors I’m painting with.

What is the first thing someone says when viewing your art?

‘Wow!’ is always my favorite response.

My hope is to establish the signifier/signified relationship between the work and the viewer.  So much contemporary art is about author’s intent without accountability for the viewer’s subjectivity in terms of knowing the backstory behind the artist’s intended meaning.

My work needs no textual introduction.  It functions universally.  The forms, shapes, and colors are accessible to anyone who looks.

What is your biggest challenge as an artist?

The challenge is the business of making money.  I’m personally not wired to see money.  In undergraduate school, a lot of times the question on how to monetize my art business goes unanswered or the teacher says, ‘you’ll figure it out’ and doesn’t teach you business.  As it turns out, that would have been pretty useful.

You can find it in the prestigious graduate schools like Columbia, Yale, and UCLA which are finishing schools.  It’s common to have a mentor in business pair up with an artist. Because of this, they have a strong history of people graduating and becoming successful in the art world.

Talking more about the arts community, what is working in Iowa?

The Mainframe Studios in Des Moines is awesome and it’s a great addition to Central Iowa’s arts community.  There is a great vibe and atmosphere, and Siobhan Spain is doing an awesome job leading it.  I believe right now there are around 70 artists using the space, with plans to expand three times as they renovate the second and third floors.

What could be improved? 

Iowa is an agricultural state by nature, and sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough people who appreciate the arts.  It could be a double-sided problem, where maybe art isn’t doing its job to be understandable, but maybe people don’t have enough appreciation.

All it takes is getting out of your house and driving 15 minutes to where art exists today.  I would add, more people need to buy art and start adding to their own collection!

What are some past projects in the community you’re most proud of?

I was included in the Iowa Artists 2011 exhibit at the Des Moines Art Center.  It was a pleasure to work with the staff there and the show was enlightening.

Coming up next, I have a show at Mainframe Studios (exhibit opening July 6th) titled, Hyper-spectral.  All the pieces will show colors operating in a spectrum that move with light.

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Corones’ work at the Des Moines Art Center lobby and PEI building windows during the Iowa Artists 2011 exhibit.

What do you stand for as an artist? 

Love, beauty, sublime, transparency, healing, forgiveness, and the orientation towards God.

How should others find and connect with you?

Visit me at First Friday’s at Mainframe Studios in Des Moines and checkout my art at my website, www.hyperrealoculus.com.


Diana Wright is the Director of Marketing and Programs at the Iowa State University Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and a contributor to Clay & Milk