"Land is spirit to me. Beyond mere appearances, I feel there is an energy, an aliveness, a livingness and vitality in the land. It is in this zone that I want to tap into and express what I feel. This is essentially a healing practice for me because observing and communicating these feelings is very cathartic. Like the practice of painting, there is a profound silence in these places, but also an incredible vibration of life. It is never boring or static except when I don’t see or listen properly and allow that spirit to flow onto my canvases. I am also fascinated with large expanses as well as the very intimate details of the land. I find just as much passion in the Grand Canyon as I do a grouping of brush or a single tree. All land is sacred to me. Everything. Sun , wind, rain, land and sky become spiritual forces to ponder and interpret . This is what drives my emotional language in my paintings and brings everything to life."
Matthew Higginbotham was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1963. His early beginnings with art took place in a pottery studio in 1974 at the age of 11 at Tulsa’s Philbrook Art Institute. This weekend class his mother enrolled him in opened up something deeper that would one day lead to a career in the arts first on the kick wheel and eventually on canvas. From 1991-1995, he owned Northwest Pottery and Fine Arts based in Spokane, Washington, selling both functional pottery and fine art ceramics. Galleries such as Sasak in the Seattle Design Center, Seattle’s Southwest Collections, and others throughout the state marketed and sold his work. Then in 1995, a creative transformation occurred that led to painting. He discovered a new way to communicate his creative vision in the immediacy of painting on canvas that he felt was absent in painting glazes on pottery. This change was profound. In a matter of days, he decided to sell most of his pottery equipment and devote himself entirely to painting. This decision turned out to be life changing.
"It was a big event for me when I started painting. I remember diving into all the art books on painting I could get a hold of and going back to the studio to practice and practice. Gradually, things started to gel. I painted a series of Southwest churches which led to a show at Metro Mall Gallery in Spokane and later at Bedford Gallery in Colorado Springs in 1995. But it wasn't until I moved to northern New Mexico that I began to better understand my voice as a painter.”
Higginbotham moved to Chimayo, New Mexico at the end of 1995 and continued his series of churches, one of which was his first large commission of the famous Santuario de Chimayo. At the same time, he also managed Casa Escondida, local bed & breakfast, sold his paintings and postcards to guests, and was represented in his first New Mexico gallery a mile away. It was in this environment, that he eventually came to love landscapes as his subject.
“In the early years of painting I experimented with many subjects and eventually landscapes became my primary focus. I was fascinated with the nuances in the fields and skies, and the more I painted them, the more I began to understand how they made my feel. When I found the colors that worked the best for me and could paint better, a whole new world opened up. I could really get into a landscape and start seeing the many wonderful opposites - darkness and light, peace and chaos, subtlety and directness, intensity and muteness. Painting became more of a spiritual practice as I started to explore ever deeper into the land. And it's an ongoing process."