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Artist of the Week: Molly Matalon

When cleaning out our childhood closets or sitting on Grandma’s couch between meals, we are sometimes given the rare opportunity to flip through the nearly extinct physical relic of a family photo album. Here there are no tags or captions, we are forced to lean into moments that sit behind sticky plastic and name the faces staring back. Molly Matalon‘s vivid portraits of her friends and family may not possess the fuzzy focus or familiar faces of our own candid shots,  but there is an intimacy that makes us feel like we’ve known these strangers in a past life.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 1.08.19 PMPortrait of Molly by friend Ryan Lowry.

In the beautifully revealing series of Matalon’s mother in Florida, the images look so colorful and perfect that they could be staged, if not for the delicate honesty of the subject bringing it into reality. Whether it’s icing a swollen face with peas or taking a selfie in Disney land, the portraits are both refreshingly natural and stunningly cinematic at the same time. It’s as if we have suddenly entered the movie version of our lives, or found an old photo album, and known everyone inside.

We spoke with Matalon about her first book, her first experience with art and the deepest influences of her friends and family.

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What do you do?

Take pictures, pet dogs of all ages and eat fresh fruit.

What was your first experience with art?

My Aunt is an artist and when I was younger I always looked up to her, we spent a lot of time at the MET and MoMa when I was younger. I grew up looking at Diane Arbus’s monograph.

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What attracts you to the people you photograph?

They are my closest friends, lovers, and family.

In the art world or beyond, what is there too much and too little of?

Way too many straight white men, way too few women of all kinds, still.

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I saw that you recently released a zine at the NY Art Bookfair. Was there a theme for the images in the book?

Yes! My friends at VUU Studio published and produced my first book. It’s a book of portraits of my friends who are creative on different levels.


Who or what influences your work?

I am definitely influenced by all of my friends. Jenny Holzer, Rineke Dijkstra, Catherine Opie, Alec Soth, Larry Sultan, Robert Adams, Roe Ethridge, JoAnn Callis.

What are you obsessed with?

Twitter, reality TV, pictures of dogs doing human things, and sea shells.

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What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a collaborative photography project with my close friend and photographer Damien Maloney. We are traveling and photographing each other.

What is your WILD Wish?

To take a selfie with Nicki Minaj.

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text by: Kate Messinger

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