Meena Matocha

Location: Pflugerville, TX

Describe your featured work:

Redemption of Ashes, 2018, Charcoal, ashes, acrylic and wax on panel, 48 × 36″

In Madeleine L’Engle’s book “Walking on Water” she presents the idea that artists are servants. They serve the artwork, understanding that the work knows more than the artist does of what it needs to be. I took on this posture when creating the piece Redemption of Ashes for my church, allowing it to be slow and meditative, progressing week to week. My intent with this piece was to let it walk the Lenten journey with us as we approached Easter. It was very much a personal journey but I was continually mindful of our community. The challenge, then, was to not allow myself to fall into thinking about the project as making something to please others, but rather to let our communal griefs and joys feed the work. I believe the Spirit allowed me to do this and it was such a powerful experience. The stories I heard and experienced together with my church community are poured into this piece. The painting is about my local church and also, ultimately, the church universal, as we lament and rejoice in our ashes, and walk in the redemption of the Light of Christ. This piece was the first I created using this process and it changed the way I make artwork. Traditionally an oil painter, making portraits and figure paintings, this piece freed me to bring in my spiritual practice and expression using different materials. They have evolved to include ashes, charcoal and soil…materials I feel convey both lament and joy in the human experience.

Prayers of the People, 2018, Charcoal, ashes, acrylic and wax on panel, 12 x 12″

Gravity and Grace, 2019, Charcoal, ashes, soil, acrylic and wax on panel, 36 x 48″

What are you making now?

Covid-19 has changed everything. My elementary aged son is now homeschooled and I have become his accidental teacher! I’m first my son’s mother, but the artist in me is not separated from everyday life. So, my work has crept out of my studio and into the spaces of our home where we live. I have my portable studio: sketchbook, graphite and pen. My drawings reflect how we’re processing the grief around us and within us as a family. These have evolved into coloring pages for children and adults alike to use as art therapy and can be downloaded for free from my website. I’ve also learned how to sew and am creating prayer masks for family, friends and neighbors. As much as I look forward to creating more large charcoal works, my desire now is to offer people art which reminds us of God’s mercy and goodness.

I Wish I Had Known You, I Wish You Had Known Me, 2019, Charcoal, ashes, soil, acrylic, wax on panel, 12 x 12″

Through a Glass Darkly, 2019, Charcoal, ashes, soil, acrylic, wax on panel, 12 x 12″

I belong to CIVA because…

To belong to a group of people who have the artist’s heart and follow the ways of Jesus…I don’t know who wouldn’t want to be part of a group like that! It’s great to get to know a whole network of artists, art-lovers and arts organizations who desire to support the visual arts as it connects with faith and the church.

Meena is a visual artist exploring the space between grief and joy. Meditation, Scripture and contemplation play large parts in her creative process. Her current body of work combines her love of the portrait and figure with the dramatic expression of abstraction. Matocha’s curiosity about how material contributes to the meaning and emotion of an art work has caused her to explore the use of charcoal as a prominent medium, the ash symbolizing humanity’s finitude. Find her on Instagram (@meenamatochaart) and Facebook (@meenamatochaart)