74: Navigating Nostalgia, History and Curiosity through textiles and paint with Suchitra Mattai

I’m so excited to share this interview with Suchitra Mattai! Suchitra is an artist/mother based in Denver, Colorado, where she lives with her husband and two sons. With an MFA in Painting and Drawing as well as an MA in South Asian Art from the University of Pennsylvania, Suchitra is a formidable formal force! We discuss invisible labor (racialized, gendered, or otherwise), the myth of needing to “master” one medium, and investing in experimentation. 

Suchitra’s art ranges in scale, texture, color, and media, but is ultimately united conceptually. Her works often deconstruct colonial narratives of the tropical landscape while using the landscape to recover joy and nostalgia for her childhood in the “lush, magical terrain” of Guyana. Though painting and drawing techniques are mainstays, her work sees her experiment with textiles, embroidery, video, found objects, and even more. Suchitra effortlessly jumps between media to craft personal, visual narratives that reimagine historical accounts of marginalization and exploitation. 

Curiosity is the cornerstone of Suchitra’s creativity. Since pivoting from teaching to making art full time five years ago, she has not stopped experimenting with any- and everything that catches her eye. Even amongst the challenges of pandemic and political uprising life, Suchitra expresses the importance of being extra motivated by hardship rather than discouraged. Her advice to do the same? Make art everyday — whatever shape, size, or form that may be — and do not compare yourself to others. For Suchitra, that constitutes true success.

See more of Suchitra’s work on her website or on her IG @suchitramattaiart.

The Artist/Mother podcast is created and hosted by Kaylan Buteyn. You can see more of Kaylan’s work on her website or connect with her on Instagram @kaylanbuteyn


Breathing Room, 2020, vintage saris, driftwood, dimensions variable
Suchitra and tapestry
Exodus, 201, vintage saris, rope, net, dimensions variable
Suchitra and her family
Suchitra in the studio

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