Entangled Nature, Painting, and Being


ECU Award Recipient

Mackenzie Award in Painting – Winner

My MFA project highlights our deep entanglement with the natural environment. I paint colourful, abstracted imaginings of the natural world and sculpt feet out of clay.

In my practice I construct pluralistic narratives that consider human and non-human animals and imagine new relationships between people and the natural world. Throughout this project I explore ideas about human evolutionary history, phenomenology, ecology, and the climate crisis.

My paintings showcase a diversity of life which envision personal and imagined experiences, desires, and possible futures. These works underscore painting as a means to navigate and understand the world. The layers of muddled paint reflect a choreography of material and thought.

Sculpting feet from clay is a tender action. I conceptualize these feet more as children’s feet, which are the feet that I attend to in my life: trimming nails, washing, painting toes, bandaging, moisturizing. By molding Earth into something I can understand, I become more capable of addressing it. The fact that it is difficult to connect to a pile of dirt and easier to connect to a pile of dirt shaped like a child’s foot is just one of those human things. These feet recall our deep connection to the earth and the generations of ancestors that echo within us.

Aghast and swell, oil on canvas, 61 x 91cm, 24 x 36″, 2024

Tree of Life 2, oil on canvas, 112 x 87cm, 44 x 34.25″, 2024

High Noon, oil on paper, 76 x 56cm, 30 x 22″, 2023

Portrait, oil on paper, 61 x 65cm, 24 x 25″, 2023

Spawning Thoughts, oil on paper, 76 x 224cm, 30 x 88″, 2023

detail from Spawning Thoughts

Tower, oil on paper, 76 x 56cm, 30 x 22″, 2023

Ancestral Ghosts Echoing Everywhere, ceramics, size variable, 2023

I Wish I Had, 48 x 64cm, 19.25 x 25″, 2024

Rabbit for Dante, acrylic on YUPO paper, 56 x 112cm, 22 x 44″, 2021

run away, oil on canvas, 77.5 x 66cm, 30.5 x 26″, 2024

Stay with Me, acrylic and oil on YUPO, 158 x 150cm, 62.25 x 59.25″, 2023

Hidden, oil on paper, 48 x 50cm, 19 x 19.75″, 2024

Worm Bumping into Seed Pod, oil on paper, 56 x 76cm, 22 30″, 2023

Vine Sensing, oil on paper, 56 x 76cm, 22 x 30″, 2023

Carry, oil on paper, 76 x 56cm, 30 x 22″, 2024

detail from Carry


April Matisz is a mother and artist living in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. She holds a degree in Biology (UVIC 2005), Art Studio (UofL 2009), and recently completed her MFA (ECUAD 2023). She was awarded the RCA C.D Howe Scholarship for Art and Design for her undergraduate art studio work and an internship at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She is the recipient of two Alberta Foundation for the Arts grants. Her painting series, Bodies Birthing Bodies, was purchased by the AFA for their collection in 2020. In 2023, her work was exhibited in a solo show at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

Matisz’s practice includes painting, drawing, collage, and ceramics. In her practice she examines personal and collective relationships between people and the natural environment. She explores the creatures and complex processes that make up the natural world, as well as the natural processes that have created Homo sapiens and continue to shape behavior, dreams, and desires. Her work draws on the sciences, environmental ethics, philosophy, and phenomenology.

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