Artist Conversation: Matthew Johnson

Alexandra Bronte Newe

Week 10, B10 Artist Conversation

Artist: Matthew Johnson

Exhibition: Dim Genesis

Media: Woodwork, Screen Prints

Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West

Website: No Website

Instagram: No Instagram


Matthew Johnson is a student here at California State University, Long Beach. He is currently in his last year and is completing his BFA in printmaking within the school of art. He typically works with woodworking and then mixing mediums to form an ink to process his beautiful prints. However, Johnson also tinkers with welding and sculpting as well.

The piece that really captured me was his gravestone that said: “Fuck It.” The Tombstone was painted dark grey and the headboard was made out of a wood material and then carved out were the words, “Fuck It.” The body of the tombstone was constructed out of wire and filled with rocks. The wire was hand-welded and the rocks were neatly arranged in a solemn way. The overall work is modernistic and blatant. As far as the color scheme goes, the colors were left to dark greys, blacks, and a touch of rusted reds. For a tombstone, it had a comical curvature to it. This added to the satirical nature of the piece as a whole. The piece was a mere two feet tall and roughly a foot wide. It was very small in comparison to Johnson’s other works.

When asked how the piece came to be, Johnson replied, “it came from a really quick sketch.” As he explained to us, it is a satirical view of how death is viewed. We put so much emphasis on death and put money into tombstones, funerals, and presentation. Yet this gravestone is for the person who just doesn’t care too much about that. Just fill up a cage with some rocks and you got yourself a grave marker.

What I took from this was exactly what Johnson was telling me. We do put a hefty weight of pressure on death and almost turn it into a grandiose sort of event. However, when we die we give back to the earth and life goes on. We don’t need to dress up nice and have this fancy casket and expensive tombstone to mark where our bodies lie. Nature is an all-powerful source that eventually will take us back in and the cycle of life will start again.



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