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Pop Geometric: The Art of Carlos Mateu

& Installation: Literate Hands: Beading as an Act of Resilience September 18, 2021 to October 29, 2021

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Art for the Soul Gallery is pleased to present Pop Geometric: The Art of Carlos Mateu and the installation titled, Literate Hands: Beading as an Act of Resilience which features the beaded jewelry of Lauren Johnson.

Pop Geometric: The Art of Carlos Mateu features the art of Afro-Cuban visual artist and professional dancer, Carlos Mateu and is curated by Ashley Zurc Pereira, guest curator and board member of Art for the Soul gallery. His paintings, which are inspired by his Afro Cuban background, his life in the United States and his own creative interpretation of his experience, fuse elements of cubism, realism, surrealism and mysticism. Mateu’s artwork is an invitation for all to find their own meanings when viewing his work.

Also on view is the installation, Literate Hands: Beading as an Act of Resilience which is a collaboration between Magdalena Gómez, an award-winning performance poet, playwright, performer, Poet Laureate for Springfield MA, and Ashley Zurc Pereira, guest curator. The installation was inspired by and features the beaded jewelry of Lauren Johnson.

Visitors are invited to meet the artists at the Opening Reception on Saturday, September 18, 2021 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. Teaching artist, Cornell Coley, M.Ed. will also be performing an interactive drumming session for all visitors to enjoy.

In compliance with Massachusetts law, all guests must wear mask.

Photos from the Opening Reception by Richard W. Bulda:


CARLOS MATEU was born in 1970 in Havana, Cuba, and has resided in the United States since 1997. As a teenager he attended The Paulita Concepcion Vocational School of Art where he studied painting, engraving, sculpture, drawing and art history. He later studied mechanical drawing at the Fernando Aguado y Rico Technological Institute, and completed his formal art education at the renowned San Alejandro National Academy of Fine Arts. This combination of studies served to develop and refine his technique and style, as well as to solidify his desire to make art a lifelong profession.

He calls his style Pop Geometric. His paintings fuse elements of cubism with realism, using straight lines and perspective to create a geometric and three-dimensional effect, while subtly deforming the images. Intense colors of acrylic are applied in layers like silkscreen, creating clean and precise divisions between tones, textured further with oil pastel. His subject matter incorporates surrealism and mysticism to reflect the Afro Cuban life and religions, memories of Cuba, his life in the United States and his own creative perspective on the world around him.

Carlos was trained as an Art Teacher by Joan Mitchell Foundation. He have been teaching for different after school programs, leading a portfolio prep for middle school students at Museum of Art & Design, etc.

He was selected as one of the 60 Masters of Contemporary Art by Art Tour International Magazine in 2014, also as one of three Latin artists of the 2015 Hispanic Edition of Thompson's Unity Magazine., etc. Recently Carlos was showing his art work at Galleria360 in Florence, Museum of The City of New York, at WBGO 88.3 Jazz and at The Jewish Museum of NJ. Actually Carlos works as a teaching artist and Cuban dance instructor for various institutions in New York City.

LAUREN JOHNSON was born an Aquarian in Harlem, NYC in 1946. She and her five sisters and five brothers moved to Long Island City, Queens, where she grew up in public housing beneath the Queensboro Bridge (now known as the Ed Koch Bridge).

As a single parent, Ms. Johnson raised her two sons, Luqman and Charles in Washington Heights. Luqman and Charles’ love for the arts showed up at an early age and was encouraged. Luqman’s interest evolved into his two legendary bands, Funk Face and Dope Sagittarius. Charles, who also lives in NYC, became a Hip-Hop historian and curates street art shows for well known graffiti artists. Charles is also a combat veteran.

While raising her children, Ms. Johnson attended Hunter College, earning her B.A. and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. Her interest in Special Ed came from having two dyslexic siblings. To support her children and her vision, Ms. Johnson worked in the field of Social Work and as a Nurse’s Aide, which included working with terminally ill patients at Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island, NYC.

Ms. Johnson became interested in jewelry making as a young woman, but there was never enough time in an overwhelming schedule. Her interest peaked one day while walking through Manhattan’s jewelry and diamonds district, where she watched and was mesmerized by a woman in a window who was knotting pearls.

The colorful earrings on exhibit have all been designed and hand strung by Ms. Johnson. She is on a creative journey to document in beading the flags of all African and Caribbean countries, while learning their histories of colonization and liberation. To date, she has completed all of the Caribbean nations and two-thirds of Africa’s countries. This work has been part of a healing journey for Ms. Johnson, who when in need of “rest” periods, creates jewelry as a meditation for gaining a deeper understanding and knowledge of the political oppression and resistance of Pan-African nations.

Ms. Johnson, who also quilts, was part of a Black Women’s quilting group that has been documented as part of a photographic exhibit at the Smithsonian.

Ms. Johnson currently resides in the Bronx, NY.

CORNELL COLEY, M.Ed. is an award-winning percussionist, dancer, teacher and public performance artist whose work spans performance, community development, education and health. His major cultural influences include the drum and dance traditions of West and Central Africa, the Caribbean, Brazil and the USA. He is a trained HealthRHYTHMS facilitator and certified by the Drum Circle Facilitators Guild.

Mr. Coley has won numerous local and national grants and awards, including the Mass Cultural Council, The Boston Foundation, NEFA and the NEA. He has taught Afro-Latin dance at 10 major colleges. He has conducted artistic residencies with the Design Center 4 Social Intervention and the City of Boston.

  • Current, long-term clients - Hyde Square Task Force, Friendship Works and Tewksbury Hospital.

  • Created a popular, solo interactive program "A Fascinating Rhythm” performed throughout New England, currently numbering over 400 venues.

  • Featured on CD “JP Tropicale” - recorded with Capoeira Master Deraldo Ferreira.

  • Featured on Nigerian recording artist Offiong Basey’s acclaimed, self-titled CD.

  • Directs an Afro-Latin jazz collaboration project “Afrika Gente,” which has evolved into a Latin jazz performance project encompassing some of the top musicians in new England.

  • Initiated collaboration concert “Soul of Latin Jazz” for the fall of 2017 featuring 20 performers and visual artists from the Afro-Latin Diaspora, followed by a “Soul Synergy” concert for the fall/winter of 2018.

  • A CICADA Art at a Distance grantee in 2020.

  • Currently a New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) and a City of Boston Transformative Art grantee


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