Artist Statement


Yuzly Mathurin

Image by Alex Bershaw

Through my art, I express myself and reflect my world. I
capture the often-conflicting expanse of human emotions, including shared
experiences of pain and love, through oil paintings on canvas, street art, and
film photography. I aim to transform negative experiences into positive and
joyful artworks.

My portraits focus on highlighting the strength of black
women and men – to that end, I use bright warm colors, pastels, and contrasting
cool tones, in addition to geometric shapes and text on flat backgrounds. I also
like to include floral motifs to honor my grandfather who was a farmer in Haiti,
but also to draw on my experience with building a community garden in my
hometown. Text, graffiti, and color help me convey my thoughts in my portrait
work – at the same time, while creating, I never lose sight of the American, African,
and Caribbean traditions that inspire these creative choices. The inclusion of
graffiti in my work reflects my childhood and youth during the Hip-Hop and Graffiti
era of American ’80s - 2000s; and the colors I use are inspired by Yoruba
culture and deities, modern fashion, Hip-Hop environments, and my family’s
Haitian cultural background – all of them spaces that I research regularly, and
that I’m deeply connected with on a personal level.

Street art is another medium that allows me to
exteriorize what I’ve seen or imagined. It’s free art for the public and a way
for me to offer a visual representation of the issues I face and the things I
love. Most importantly, through large-scale mural portraiture, I can be a voice
for people who look like me. Coming from a Caribbean-Haitian heritage, I value
the concepts of family, community, and culture, and I want to tell visual
stories of a resilient Caribbean people, more beautiful and complex than any
media, or xenophobic or racial remark, can paint them – and more present and
impactful than their absence in art spaces suggests.

My art reflects a variety of social realities: the endurance
of young mothers and underserved communities; the intricacies of people of
African descent; and the multi-layered impacts of abuse, mental health issues, discrimination,
poverty, immigration, and single motherhood. All these subjects are part of me
and my personal experience – and through time, effort, and creative
exploration, I was able to morph them into curiosity, celebration,
self-awareness, and self-expression. I’ve been investing that energy back into underserved
communities and into inspiring the youth, giving them the tools to create fresh
outlooks on life through artistic expression.

Through my art, I cleanse myself of the pain of my
upbringing, and I showcase the joy and celebration of my culture through my use
of color, faces, stories, text, and history. I make art so that our collective
stories do not go untold.

- Yuzly