Updated: Jul 16, 2020
Yvette Mattern’s visual art is awe-inspiring. As we stood beneath the ark of her Global Rainbow installation, which stretched further than the eye can see, it felt truly magnificent to see this painting in the sky. Yvette is a visionary and her artwork takes her around the world, leaving audiences mesmerized.
When did you first discover your love for the arts and who has inspired you?
Yvette: “My mother took me to a very special Rudolf Steiner school in Puerto Rico when I was a young child and I was so moved by the courses that it started my path as a creative being.
Cinema has always inspired me - mostly the 60’s nouvelle Vague period in Europe and the 70’s in America and Germany. Painters of light, Caravaggio and Turner and photographers of light like Julia Margaret Cameron and Roy De Carava were huge inspirations as well. I was always drawn to ethereal spaces.”
Tell us about the Global Rainbow, what gave you the idea and what was involved in bringing the concept to completion?
Yvette: “I was at a crossroads in my life where I had to make a decision about what to pursue personally and professionally. It was a difficult period. I was a struggling single mother and I was living in upstate New York and was quite unhappy. New Year’s Day 2007 I drove back from NY city and picked up my son from a friend in Massachusetts and on the drive home upstate, I witnessed a life changing epic rainbow over Walden Pond. It spoke to me and it resonated so deeply as I had a deep connection to Walden Pond and the transcendentalists when I lived in Boston. It began my pursuit of creating a light work on the scale of a natural rainbow. It took me several more years of research and mistrials to discover the power of lasers and the technology which actualized my vision.”
You travel the world with your art, which destination has been the most exciting to show your art and why?
Yvette: “Northern Ireland was particularly special for me. I had always dreamed of pursuing a Global Rainbow as a vision of hope and a true bridge to unify and serve as symbol of peace and diversity. Presenting it in Northern Ireland was the closest to actualizing this vision of the artwork.”
What was the most recent art exhibition you attended?
Yvette: “I ran quickly to the opening of the Berlin Biennale but was very disappointed. I was very drawn to the freedom of expression in the visual arts world years ago but have been ultimately disappointed in its colloquial nature and fickle power structure. The art historical canon is skewed and constructed by a small wealthy circle and mostly white male academics. Some of these structures have been slowly crumbling but I don’t think I will witness a true shift in my lifetime which is discouraging.”
What advice would you give to any young women who aspire to be artists?
Yvette: “Help other women. Don’t only rely on your body and sexuality as the only form of expression or power currency. Realize men still hold much of the power and navigate within it and create your own path and power regardless of the obstacles. Own your femininity. Don’t compare yourself with others.”
If you could work with anyone in the world who would you choose and why?
Yvette: “James Turrell. I was recently in Southern California and felt it was my spiritual home. I was confused as to why I had never lived there and would very much like to move to Malibu. I understand why there was a southern California light and space movement in the late 60’s. Turrell is a visionary and Roden Crater is something I understand as an artist. Turrell has spent the last forty years developing Roden Crater as a cosmic experience and a life artistic opus. It takes courage and obvious financial and professional success and genius to have the opportunity to immerse so deeply in this artistic exploration. I feel that Turrell’s upbringing as a Quaker established a spiritual foundation for his artistic exploration and I have an instinctual understanding of this quest.
My father was born in South Dakota and the landscape and the power of the land and the light I found in South Dakota is something I would also like to immerse myself in. After my father passed away in 2015 I took a journey with my handicapped brother (who was particularly devastated by his death) through all of South Dakota and almost like a vision quest ended up at a Lakota Sun Dance. It was as moving as seeing the Rainbow over Walden Pond. It healed our loss and opened up a dream to create an artwork there in the same spirit of James Turrell.”
What are you working on at the moment?
Yvette: “I have been developing a floating laser star. I want it to be like an apparition in the sky. It’s quite challenging technically and expensive and ambitious but I’m trying.”
When you are not working, what excites you?
Yvette: “Watching my son grow up. Exploring new places in the world. Being inspired by something special.”
Which women inspire you the most and why?
Yvette: “I love women who are comfortable in their own skin. I love women who are elegant and tough at the same time. I love women who are gracious to other women. I love women who aren’t preoccupied with competing for the attention of a man.”
What is your favorite inspirational quote?
Yvette: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that by Martin Luther King.”
If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only take one movie, one song and one type of food what would they be?
Yvette: “Song: Malaike by Miriam Makeba Food: Banana Film: Apocalypse Now Redux Directors Cut.”
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