Derek Mathias has dabbled in various forms of artwork over the years, but in 2007 he experimented with a new form of artwork based loosely on drawings he developed as a child. He calls the result embossed metal artwork (EMAs), and it consists of intricate embossed patterns all drawn freehand into thick copper or anodized aluminum foils, often with cutouts or different colored inserts. Originally he mounted them on rectangles of roughly finished slate, which because of their weight were limited to about 12" across in size. Later he switched to mounting the EMAs on stretched canvas frames covered with a variety of rich, complementary fabrics (such as faux suede, leather and snakeskin; crushed velvet and satin).
EMAs are designed to draw attention from a distance with their overall simple but dynamic patterns and the unique metallic sheen. As the viewer approaches, the focus switches to the intricate, detailed patterns worked into the metal. EMAs change appearance dramatically in different lighting. They especially come to life when displayed in soft, oblique home lighting, which brings the embossing out in sharp relief and causes the metal to shine with a liquid or even electric intensity.
Derek’s EMAs have been displayed in only a few Bay Area galleries, but his artwork took first place in Palo Alto’s Pacific Art League “Figurative” exhibition in November 2008. The award was for: “Great craftsmanship and use of materials in a sophisticated manner. Good use of negative spaces, movement, and surface quality.”
Derek was born in Chile and grew up all over the world, living in and visiting such places as India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador and the US. He’s worked in a wide range of fields, including infantry paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, naturalist/guide in the Galapagos Islands, graphic designer, website developer, video ad designer, and computer applications instructor. Apart from his artwork, he enjoys writing screenplays and novels, cartooning, Thai boxing and physical fitness, motorcycling, trap and skeet, and more.