Artmaking in the Time of COVID-19

Artmaking in the Time of COVID-19 features artists who previously exhibited with Gallery 263. We created these posts to see if artists’ practices are changing due to the global pandemic. In a time of physical distance, we hope you enjoy learning about other artists’ experiences and gaining insight into their practices.

Visit the main page for Artmaking in the Time of COVID-19 to access all of the artist interviews.


Artist Interview: Matt Hufford

3 AM. GIF.

Tell us about yourself and your practice.

I’m Matt, I use he/him pronouns, and I’m a painter and an instructor currently living and teaching in Boston. My studio practice is observational in nature and I often consider the surfaces I paint on as important as the painting. I feel most connected to my practice when I’m painting outside to capture the essence of a moment. Change, liminal spaces, and cycles – especially those that occur in nature – are muses that guide me from one painting to the next. Finding the balance between capturing the impermanence of a moment and the longevity of a painting is something I grapple with daily.

How has your creative practice shifted and adapted during the pandemic?

Through the early months of the pandemic, I continued to paint outside and explore the relationship between my paintings and the surfaces they are painted on. I made a few paintings that were closer to my home, finding materials local to Boston, such as rubble and large scraps of metal on the side of the road. But, as the months passed, I found that I wasn’t able to engage in my practice in the same way.

As the pandemic continued, I had less energy to engage in the same outdoor based painting practice I knew and loved. Yet, I still wanted to keep creating, so I began making digital paintings in Photoshop and small watercolors in my sketchbooks.

How has the content of or approach to your work shifted because of current events?

My subject matter began to shift from outside to interior scenes. Some paintings became a vehicle to process the collective trauma the world was experiencing, while others were a way to still feel connected to creating art. One painting in particular, titled, 3AM, was a direct response to my need to make sense of the pandemic. It is an animated digital painting and departure from my typical work in many ways. 3AM is a three frame gif of flashing lights on my bedroom wall, silhouetted by my bedside lamp. This was the view out my window on April 5th, at 3AM. Anxious, and unable to sleep, I became transfixed by the stark contrast between the neon blue, haunting grey, and bright red flashing lights. I opened up my laptop and quickly sketched out this painting before the emergency vehicles departed.

Do you have plans to transform your work or approach in 2021?

I plan on getting back into a rhythm with my painting practice in 2021. I feel myself being drawn back to painting in the material world with paint and found surfaces. The other day I was walking back from the store and I found a large chunk of cement in the dirt on the side of the road. I couldn’t resist bringing it home with me, but made sure to wash it well when I got back. It’s about the size of a laptop and has a boot imprint in it. I’m not sure what I will paint on it yet, but I know it will make a great surface. It’s not yet clear where the year or my studio practice will take me, but I’m looking forward to finding out.