Christen Mattix, Bellingham, WA Member Since March 2012 Artist Statement The Malissa Perry Project St. Joseph Medical Center - now until January 2016
The Malissa Perry Project is a heartfelt collaboration between Malissa Perry, a woman with Down Syndrome and autism, and her caregiver, artist Christen Mattix, pairing Malissa’s jewel-like abstractions with Christen’s bold portraits of Malissa. A work of art as social practice, the project brings together adults with intellectual disabilities, caregivers, and the Bellingham community in radical celebration. Overturning stereotypical ideas of ability and disability, artist and model, the exhibit reveals a democratic approach to art practice.
Christen’s intimate and confrontational portraits translate Malissa's body language into paint, finding beauty in Malissa’s unconventional appearance. Vibrant colors charge the work with emotional intensity, evoking Malissa's radiant spirit.
Malissa Perry is a nonverbal painter whose paintings give expression to a rich, enigmatic inner life. She creates dense, atmospheric layers of marker, glitter and paint that suggest nebulae, tidal pools, or glittering geodes. The surfaces of her paintings incorporate found objects like shoelaces, beads and balloons culled from her daily life. Her ability to paint was discovered when beloved staff person, Nancy Daugherty, gifted her with a blank canvas and encouraged her to start painting. The titles for the paintings were created in a collaborative process by Malissa's support staff.
Proceeds from Malissa's prints and paintings will be donated towards a service dog. Malissa's beloved companion dog, Phoebe died of cancer in 2014.