SANNA/STROM, a lower middle class Scandinavian-American bohemian beat poet who ghost writes for tongue-tied studio artists and other inarticulate heroes that are hopelessly interested in the Humanities.

JSMATTESON, see the about > bio section of this website for more.


The values that I hold most dear are apparent in my interdisciplinary artistic and educational endeavors as a teaching artist to edit space and time in an expressive and experimental way that encourages close examination of the core balances between individualism/independence and collectivism/interdependence in society today.

Although an “abstract” work of art is the product of an artistic process of simplification, the aesthetic experience it facilitates can be quite complex, especially in regard to how multiple memories and senses can be simultaneously triggered by just one of these catalysts of ambiguity. The apparent absence of “concrete” imagery causes us to become more curious about (and therefore more critical of) content derived from form, subject matter, and non-formal context, especially in today's hyper-connected, media-rich era where our senses are being constantly inundated with advertisements designed to elicit either impulsive “knee-jerk” reactions devoid of reason or a state of physical passivity where active conceptual explorations that seem safer as less meaningful mind-over-matter experiences.

An analogy to the recording artist is useful to understanding my creative process. Music made in a studio setting differs from the direct, unedited kind that is performed by a band or a busker before a live audience. Like the studio musician, my work is the result of successive recordings made in a private professional space using a variety of tools before a final compilation is released to audiences in the discursive spaces of society for appreciation. To construct captivating images, I set a sequence of steps for myself that allow for improvisation to varying degrees. Melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic elements coalesce to ensure an evocative experience that is both compelling and complete. Some of my pieces are made to be experienced as physical objects while others are not.

As someone who is interested in systems, I wholeheartedly encourage curators of all kinds to construct low-cost contemporary exhibitions with my eclectic and scalable body of work for private reflection and public discourse since I played with the symphonic form and other editing practices to juxtapose sensory inputs that facilitate self-awareness and empathy.

The following statements are a few of those that greatly influence my a-tad-more-monkery-than-monkey-business holistic approach to art:


"I do not want art for a few, anymore than I want education for a few, or freedom for a few..." William Morris

“Art is a way to practice at consciousness and self-examination.” – Roberta Smith

“The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.” – Anton Chekhov

“Everything is expressed through relationship.” – Piet Mondrian

"What is done only to pamper a single individual can almost be called useless; only what can be used by everyone will be valued by a future society." – Henry van de Velde

"This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well." – Paulo Freire

"The point of protesting in artistic work against the ignominy of the ever-same is concretely and specifically to remind ourselves that our lives can be more than mere repetitions, that they can themselves be media of free and satisfying meaning-making, at least in principle and prospect." – Richard Eldridge

“There is nothing more tentative than an established order. What we take to be the most concrete or solid often turns into a concatenation of the unexpected. Any order can be reordered. What seems to be without order, often turns out to be highly ordered.  By isolating the most unstable thing, we can arrive at some kind of coherence, at least for awhile.” - Robert Smithson

“Art historical practice constitutes the becoming-visible of the historicality of art. Historicality is an artefact of perspective. Perspective is an artefact of privileging. And the privileging of objects is at once the birth and death of art.” - Steven B. Smith

"That theory is now widely taught in academic institutions is to be commended, not condemned as some sort of squalid capitulation…Its aim is not just to help us to see what literary works mean, or how valuable they are; instead, it queries our commonsense notions of what it is to ‘mean’ in the first place, and poses questions about the criteria by which we evaluate literary art…Without some kind of theory, however unreflective and implicit, we would not know what a 'literary work' was in the first place, or how we were to read it…Hostility to theory usually means an opposition to other people's theories and an oblivion of one's own." – Terry Eagleton

"It is, though, an ironic truth that the moment when art claims to be 'above' contemporary life is always the moment it becomes controlled by it." – Alastair Mackintosh

"Art may seem to be in danger of being drowned by talk...We have neglected the gift of comprehending things through our senses...Our eyes have been reduced to instruments...visual things cannot be conveyed by verbal language...The delicate balance of all a person's powers-which alone permits him to live fully and to work well-is upset not only when the intellect interferes with intuition, but equally when sensation dislodges reasoning…Groping in vagueness is no more productive than blind adherence to rules." – Rudolf Arnheim

(NOTE: Like the non-verbal series they describe, the following verbal statements were reorganized repeatedly by the artist in hopes of encouraging active engagement through explicitly and implicitly providing many points of access into each of these works of art, especially the non-formal aspects of an aesthetic experience such as the idea(s) behind the use of a specific product or process to complete a given project.)


EXOSPACES - gameplay recordings (2017-18)

The EXOSPACES series is my first opus as a Swedish-American graduate art student with a professional background in New Media marketing, music theory (bass), and museum culture. Simply put, I identify as a “red donkey” politically speaking, which is a stereotypical term that I have adopted to label myself. It seems that today’s version of Stockholm Syndrome is a systemic, structural attempt to estrange most of us from nature to nurture engagement in artificial distinctions to profitably and predictably recast The American Dream.

An important point for us to ponder here is the patriarchal preoccupation with renting ourselves out to find some sense of social status and mobility (e.g. rank) by sharing screen captures that demonstrate our highest degree of flow achieved in abstract forms of violence. That is, expressing great efficiency and effectiveness in piloting a drone with an untethered remote control (e.g. smartphone or tablet) as a form of physical escapism and metaphysical engagement via VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality), and MR (mixed reality). In the past, capitalists lobbied to get consumers to seek private ownership too, but now they want us to pay rent to access things that we underwrote by commission or omission and cannot resale. In doing so, Millennials have adopted a highly reflexive, not reflective, lifestyle in the name of so-called “free agency” exemplified in the pursuits of professional athletes and reality TV stars.

Yet, philosophical materialists, like the young Hegelian, Karl Marx, have encouraged us to analyze ideal forms, and the variants they vilify, through a more scientific matter-over-mind approach where we can critique our contingent read-write state of being apparent in optical and aural illusions, where the mind makes conceptual leaps under the law of simplicity. In fact, the audio has been intentionally extracted from my gameplay clips to point out our predilection to pareidolia when paired with musical compositions that I listened to (yet not while I was making these videos to ensure that they would be as non-referential as possible) that participants could also chose to promote or change in preference to their own music.

Demystification is just as important to me (an academic) being awe-struck by The Sublime as I was raised to value curiosity and critical thinking instead of adopting the ahistorical approach to manifestations of the collective imagination that some are promoting today in the West, which continues to fuel the “for-profit” Military Post-Industrial Complex that permeates our canons and state of query in the Humanities. Therefore, a value of abstract art, like education, is to demystify form while encouraging creative exploration so we can fully appreciate messages communicated through verbal and/or nonverbal means.

If it is true that more than half of all communication is nonverbal, than why is spoken and written language so over represented?

First proliferation, then consolidation.

WARDROBES - upcycled clothing (2012-17)

The WARDROBES series is Matteson’s compound-singular (e.g. a bushel of apples) way of offering a self-portrait.

As Jonathan says, “The WARDROBES series is an homage to my father’s mother, Ruth, who introduced her sensitive grandson to the simple pleasure of a thrift store treasure hunt when I was child growing up in the Four Corners region of the U.S. in the 1980s.  I wish that she was still here to see the work that I do voluntarily in contrast to the compulsory life that I now realize we both struggled with back then.  We enjoyed losing track for a time, and a few bucks along the way, by going on a little trip together to find a ‘good deal,' meaning obtaining an object or two that seemed sovereignly fit for us to stumble upon by a personal God interested in the details of life.  These adventures felt spontaneous, yet sensible…a way to pillage without being perceived as too rich or poor…under appreciated partners on a jaunt to bring back spolia from suburbia.”

Despite what might seem to be a significant return to representation for Matteson, this series began with similar intent to all his others: Jonathan’s sincere interest in facilitating a challenging aesthetic experience by designating something telling from his personal life (e.g. the key parts of his current wardrobe) and then putting it on display for self-awareness and public discourse—hopefully on a relevant range of topics for the day including the intersection of consumerism and environmentalism seen in the “upcycling” of discarded clothes as a status symbol, which has been perpetuated and promoted by Northwest pop stars like Macklemore and places like Portland(ia).

Almost every garment that Matteson combined to complete this first collection was personally acquired and arranged by him.  That is, most of these tops were selected first-hand by the artist at a second-hand shop in the Palouse close to where he and his family resided back then.  Moreover, these items were bought at Jonathan’s own expense over the span of five years (2012-17) and were digitally indexed, organized, and uploaded to the Internet by him directly for indirect appreciation.

These curated costume-like clothes offer some compelling insight into Matteson’s apparent interest in, and identification with, an urban cowboy type of aesthetic that seems, on the surface, to be very unlike Jonathan’s other collections, yet provides additional proof, not only his appreciation for The Elements & Principles of Art/Design, but a Postmodern practice that blurs the line between guided and unguided experiences, successive and simultaneous ways of seeing, figure and ground, past and present, rural and urban, explicit/actual/literal and implied/simulated/figurative, critical works of art and commercial designs, conscious and unconscious activities, and traditional masculine and feminine gender roles.  This online exhibition is informed by the artist’s professional background in marketing in that it is designed to work well with the 3rd-screen smartphone and tablet mobile device users so they can appreciate and virally share his “playclothes” with comment.

   Chords I, Autumn Leaves in Em - TRANSLATIONS  , 2016. 44 in x 44 in (111.76 cm x 111.76 cm). graphic art prints.

Chords I, Autumn Leaves in Em - TRANSLATIONS, 2016. 44 in x 44 in (111.76 cm x 111.76 cm). graphic art prints.

TRANSLATIONS - digital art prints (2016)

A great way to innovate is to amalgamate.

As a musician (bassist) and a visual artist, I combine my understanding of Music Theory and Visual Perception to create new kinds of aesthetic experiences through my interdisciplinary approach.

My goal for this TRANSLATIONS series was to take the important "Autumn Leaves" Jazz standard out of its immaterial state as a 4/4 tune in the key of E minor and translate it into a set of visual objects.  To accomplish this, I constructed several 44x44 inch studies that separate the key components of the song into still, silent, and simultaneous works of art.

These "Immobile Motions" are based upon recent research related to color mapping melodies that builds on the body of peer-reviewed knowledge focused on finding twelve color equivalents for the twelve notes that are used in Western music.

Contemplation of counter narratives such as these enhances our appreciation of systems and helps us become more objective about seemingly spontaneous artistic acts.

   Sanguine - EXURBS   , 2015. 36 in x 48 in (91.44 cm x 121.92 cm). colored duct tape on reflective insulation.

Sanguine - EXURBS, 2015. 36 in x 48 in (91.44 cm x 121.92 cm). colored duct tape on reflective insulation.

EXURBS - colored duct tape on reflective insulation bricolages (2015)

The exurbs (short for “extra-urban”) are the quasi-rural outlying affluent areas that encompass urban epicenters and their surrounding suburban environments.  The EXURBS series is an abstract visual experience that seeks to raise awareness and questions about these new elite establishments such as; in a day and age of unprecedented connectivity, what are the political, economic, social, cultural, and religious factors that have contributed to the emergence of the exurbanite?

Each of the six bricolages that comprise the series is based on a harmony derived from the equilateral color triangle as a symbolic representation of the DIY exurbanite neighborhoods.

Untitled #3 - FUSIONS, 2014. 22 in x 22 in (55.88 cm x 55.88 cm). watercolor on paper.

FUSIONS - woven watercolor on paper paintings (2014)

For my FUSIONS series, I created two abstract watercolors for each woven work by action painting them side-by-side using squeegees and splashes.  I then deconstructed both into geometric strips that intuitively intertwined.  In doing so, I was able to unite, reorganize, and augment the visual space of the original organic images, making a total of eight grid-like amalgamations that are ultimately more creative, compelling, and complete.

2014 NWWF Winner!

Untitled #27 - BIOMES, 2013. 24 in x 18 in (60.96 cm x 45.72 cm). acrylic on canvas.

BIOMES - acrylic on canvas palette knife paintings (2013)

For my BIOMES series, I abstracted environments such as woodlands, deserts, grasslands, and tundras.  I created these acrylic palette knife paintings while contemplating the importance of symbiosis in sustainability.  Each of the twelve vivid impasto paintings included in this series offer the viewer an evocative haptic/optic experience, making them individually and collectively more memorable despite their diminutive size.

Published by Empty Mirror

Donated to Pullman Regional Hospital Emergency Care - Pullman, WA