Rob Matthews explores faith and spirituality, personal identity, and his southern roots in meticulously detailed graphite drawings. The portraits featured here depict members of the artist’s family and many of his friends. The objects they hold remind us of medieval saints’ attributes, but brought solidly to earth. Matthews asks his subjects to choose a meaningful object. He then spends up to sixty hours on each likeness, working from record photographs made under a bright light, which increases the sense of quiet drama in each portrait. Matthews asks his subjects to think of nothing while he records their visages, adding to the contemplative, meditative tone of the works.
Born in Wilson, N.C., Matthews received his BFA from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. He now lives in Philadelphia. In 2009 he was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.
→ Rob Matthews' artist statement
Adam, friend. The awkward nature with which Adam holds the turntable sums up the difficult nature of his life as a songwriter in Nashville.
Amy, childhood friend. Amy holds a Mason jar because I use it as a symbol of multiple meanings, primarily as a holder of “spirits.”
Rebecca, friend and fellow artist. Rebecca’s cat’s posture suggests how much she did NOT want to be drawn.