Mathew Duquette: Vessels

A House is House for Me, 2010, acrylic on board, 15 x 20 in. collection of the artist.

Mathew Duquette: Vessels

Oct 2, 2011 - Jan 15, 2012


Mathew Duquette described his recent work as “inspired by my past, present and future physical and metaphysical experiences.”  Focusing on the nostalgia of childhood, his path to parenthood and the concept of transmigration of the soul, he “digs deep in the dark rooms of the mind and edits what most presumably is the climax of an event, dream or idea.”  Duquette’s intention is to tell the complete story—with one striking, narrative image. 

Through works featured in Vessels, Duquette shared his introspections on the concept of containment. Vessels of containment are derived from reflections on three aspects of his life—travel, storage and biology. In the 21st century, it is common for people to relocate numerous times throughout their lives. To Duquette, moving from place to place reinforces the spatial relativity of the physical landscape. This is reflected in his work Migration (2009) which documents such a move from Buffalo, NY to Chapel Hill, NC and back again.  Experiencing the physicality of the size of the country through periodic relocations, as well as transporting one’s belongings, offers a sense of the distances between locations and the amount of time and energy it takes to get there. Change of Address (2008) and A House is House for Me (2010) illustrate the responsibility and challenges of relocation. 

A vessel of storage can include the physical attributes of one’s being. Duquette states, “an individual is a holder of material and non-material commodities.”  He or she becomes a vessel of experiences and memories. Expressed in Domestic (2011), the artist symbolizes this through the myriad of drawers within the figure’s body, inferring that opening a draw is like reliving a memory. His biological substance, in effect his mind and spirit, become a vessel for defining the culmination, to date, of his life experiences. 

Thirdly, Duquette explains that his wife Laura is “a vessel of biological reproduction.” The birth of their son Gable is perhaps the pinnacle of passing on material and non-material “commodities” to the next generation. These commodities include things such as genetics and family heirlooms. From Duquette’s point of view, the body becomes storage of existing spiritual energy and has the ability to nurture a new life. This concept is revealed in Precious Cargo (2011) featuring an image of his wife Laura and unborn son Gable. Setting Forth and Headup (both 2011) feature a humorous look at child development. Setting Forth places parents Matt and Laura in a gondola beneath a hot air balloon (represented by Gabel’s head) symbolizing the remarkable journey their new child will take them on. Headup is a more meditative look at parents’ position of contemplation and influence over their child’s growth and development.

Duquette’s works are filled with newspaper clippings, Post-It-Notes; handwritten letters, scrap sketches, and layered with acrylic and pencil on board. Quite often, each scrap of material is related to the concept and has a story of its own. Duquette states, “It’s all about the gritty memories and experience that come with surviving life and through the (artwork) construction, each piece allows for various levels of tactile and psychological meaning.”

Click here to access a digital copy of the exhibit catalog.