Colin Matthes

Essential Knowledge: Volume One

Colin Matthes

Essential Knowledge: Volume One



Edition Size



Acrylic, Colored Pencil, Gouache, Ink, Screenprint, Watercolor


25 × 19 × 2 in




Waukesha, WI

$ 3,000.00

7 in stock

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University of Connecticut (UCONN)

Essential Knowledge is an ongoing series of prints teaching skills for success in challenging situations.

This first volume of prints is about navigating external factors in the world. The prints include early works like Encoding Messages to recent works of Matthes’s like B-Nice and Shark Attack. Hopefully, by spending time with this work, we will all become a little more formidable when facing life’s challenges.

The portfolio features twenty screen prints. Seven of the prints include hand embellishments. The portfolio is presented in a red archival box with custom foil stamping and a perfect bound catalog of all the prints.

Volume One Prints:
1. Shock
2. When Guard Dogs Attack
3. Mobile Border Wall
4. Flying a Chopper
5. S.T.A.R.T.
6. Improvised Water Filters
7. Eating Insects
8. Lying
9. Black Bear Encounter
10. Fucking Ticks
11. Mass Exodus
12. Sinking Motor Vehicle
13. Shark Attack
14. Rip Tide
15. Making a Boat from the Ruins of a Gas Station
16. Active Shooter
17. Landing a Plane
18. B-NICE
19. Book Code
20. Survive a Nuke Attack

Artist’s Statement

“My walk to the studio on the rural West Coast of Ireland would take an hour each morning. This was no ordinary walk; I’d embrace the seemingly ever-present sideways rain and harsh Atlantic winds by laughing, yelling, screaming, and freezing. When I thought, it was about the generations who lived in this unforgiving stone-filled landscape, the Burren.

I was a visiting artist at the Burren College of Art. In the studio, I was making large-scale wet-on-wet landscape paintings influenced by the always-changing epic skies of the region and the industrial ruin of my home, Milwaukee.

When this work felt too daunting, I made drawings about the things necessary to know while living here. How do you catch a fish or make a fire with access to almost nothing? I would fill up a large page of drawing paper thinking through each question. They were not art, there were no rules to how they had to look, they were just thinking, thinking the way an obsessive drawer thinks. A year later I returned to the USA with my stack of drawings, tucked them away, and became all consumed with making a solar-powered remote-control car demolition derby, as well as continuing these landscape paintings.

In 2014, my partner got pregnant, and I was obsessively thinking again, this time about all the things you should know as a father and how to be prepared for this new life. How should I prepare for birth? How do you calm a newborn? How do you escape from a second-story window? I developed knowledge too, like making a diaper in an emergency. Essential Knowledge drawings have been a consistent part of my life since.

When I think back, they are a visualization of how I’ve always operated. Long before there was art, there was making do and figuring things out. On a gravel road, in an old farmhouse, the son of an electrician, I grew up around piles, piles of everything. These piles were clutter, but they were more than that. They were potential. We were always working, solving problems with what was on hand. Often the most simple and direct approach is necessary and the most beautiful. I learned this wiring temporary electric at small-town county fairs.

Once a side project when I wasn’t doing the important stuff, they are now the project. This growing collection of drawings (currently over 100) is how I navigate the world, how I learn, how I share experience, how I manage restlessness, prepare for new challenges, and tell stories.

The subjects range from building a row boat from an abandoned gas station to reading body language, from improvised coffee making on the road to constructing a mobile border wall. They expose more than I am comfortable with, might just belong tucked away somewhere, and have no signs of slowing down.”