Artist Interviews 2022

Ingrid Yuzly Mathurin  
By Laura Siebold

Photo: Angie Vasquez

The Other Art Fair Los Angeles always manages to showcase something new with each exhibit, among the September 2022 edition being the works of Ingrid Yuzly Mathurin. As a Haitian American artist, Ingrid Yuzly Mathurin creates her works in response to her interests in African spirituality, female empowerment, social justice and mental health. Besides honoring the beauty of dark skin, Ingrid portrays powerful human emotions in her art. The artist’s skills range from oil painting, and graffitis, to drawings and large-scale murals. With her art, Ingrid wants to inspire people’s pride and create joy, but also to draw attention to mental health issues, and the lack of resources some African American communities receive. Read on to discover more about the talented artist and her Afro Pop art. Ingrid Yuzly Mathurin is based in Los Angeles, CA.

Photo: Toni Smailagic

Ingrid, you were one of the recipients who received a booth at The Other Art Fair Los Angeles this fall (2022) which was dedicated to emerging artists. What has changed for you since your first exhibit in Los Angeles?

That was such an amazing experience. I will be having my first solo exhibit in Los Angeles, and I just won another award with “In the Paint” as a contributing artist and with a 8 month mentorship with Charly Palmer. It has totally helped me to get more visibility.

You characterize your style as Afro Pop art. What does this style encompass? Do your oil paintings have a different creative process than your murals?

It represents me painting and being a representative of Black & Caribbean culture. I use a lot of bright colors in my work, and I love the Pop art culture. My work is very bright and mainly focuses on creating work highlighting my culture and the culture of people of color.

{Spike Lee image by Ingrid Yurly Mathurin, additional mural art by Fabian Williams: Tribute to the movie 'Mo Better Blues'}

You portray the expanse of human emotions in your work, with a focus on black culture. What inspires your choice of subjects? Do you draw inspiration from your Caribbean-Haitian heritage?

I recently created work on my Caribbean Haitian roots which I’m planning to do more in the future. Much of my work is inspired by the lack of seeing real and shared experiences in cultural institutions. There's a huge gap in racial equality in the art market and with being a black woman artist, there’s less of a representation for black women as well. My focus on my subject matters touches on real life experiences and the lack of support in urban communities. My latest pieces were focused on mental health in the black community and the lack of resources for affordable healthcare. It was taboo to talk about your traumas, well, for me it was growing up. If you grow up in a low income family and face traumas from school or even in the household, we are just told to suck it up. This is a huge problem right now in urban communities, especially with the amount of violence happening with the youth. I grew up in Jacksonville, FL, and it’s a problem there, a problem in Atlanta, and I'm still getting to know the LA area but it’s so important to talk about the lack of resources some communities get, so they can receive the proper help. If art and the right resources were readily available there would be a drastic drop in violence. My point of creating work highlighting stories of people of color is to start conversations on creating needed change for our communities.

Your work is currently on view at SoLA Contemporary, a gallery for emerging and established artists in South Central LA, CA, and you recently exhibited at the BEDSTUY WALLS mural festival in Brooklyn, NY. What excites you most about exhibiting your art publicly? What do you enjoy about group exhibits?

I hope my work inspires someone to look deeper and to be proud of who they are. [I want them to] [e]mbrace the life they live and [to realize] how much joy and amazing it is to be black. If I can make someone proud or even teach the youth something new, that would make my day.

When did you first see yourself as an artist? What changed at that moment?

I went to a poetry reading when I was 16, I saw my first oil painting portrait of this artist Matt Truck. I was so in awe and it was then that I told myself I wanted to paint. At that time, I was only drawing and started drawing when I was 5. I think I went to school the next day asking my art teaching about painting and I got my first oil painting set

Where do you mostly create your art? Do you need to be in a specific mind space to create?

I can actually create work anywhere. I’ve mostly had a home studio and I’m currently working out of my home studio [in] DTLA.

With the current political climate, and the many threats to minorities and cultural groups around the world, do you feel that art can be a catalyst of hope, and the artist an architect for change?

Yes, it totally can. This is one of the reasons why I love public art so much. From a recent community project I did with Bedstuy Walls, I found out today that the entire block is getting new pavement. That made my day, knowing I was a part of uplifting the neighborhood and now the entire street is getting a makeover. I have also used my artwork for political change in GA during the Ossoff campaign with painting several murals in Atlanta, encouraging communities to vote. Most recently in Atlanta, I saw a ton of artist[s] painting Mr Warnock and sharing the importance in voting and he won! One of my all-time favorite street artist[s], Banksy, [is] an example [of] how uplifting and impactful his work is, especially with communities that truly need the inspiration and hope. Art brings people together and can change a negative narrative into something positive, joyful, or even funny.

Can you tell us about your work with underserved communities and youth? We would like to know about the projects you have done as a means of encouraging hope through artistic expression.

I grew up being a first generation Haitian American and my family at one point couldn’t afford to get me everything I needed. One thing I wish was available was community programs that were free to help me learn more about art or even a mentorship would have made a huge difference in my life when I was a young teenager. It’s embedded in me to do the work and give back when I can. My most recent work was with Project Art LA and mentoring about 30 kids ages 4-12 from east LA for an entire year. I even helped them prep for their first art show. It makes me smile being able to teach the younger generation skills that can help [them] start their own creative process [to] one day becom[e] an artist. Art is therapeutic and can take one’s mind off the daily stresses of life. I will never forget hearing from a parent how much I made an impact on their daughter’s life by encouraging her to create.

What kind of advice do you have for newly emerging artists to broaden the exposure of their work?

Best advice I can give is to create every day, paint what you know, and never stop working at being the best you. My life changed when I started producing more and more work.

We are curious about future projects. What are you currently working on?

I am so excited to be a part of “In the paint” contributing artist exhibition. I will be getting mentorship by one of my favorite artist[s] and hope this is a great start to advancing my career even more. I will be painting nonstop [for] the next four months.

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