Awardee: Mat Tomezsko

Primary Artistic Medium: Visual Arts, 2 dimensional


Free Paint is a free collaborative painting event that takes place in a public space. Designed to be as accessible as possible, participants are invited to paint freely on a large communal canvas. The material produced during the event is later deconstructed and repurposed into a new composition by artist Mat Tomezsko. The resulting artwork is entirely collaborative and bears the mark of the community who made it. The piece is owned and publicly exhibited by the partner venue where it was created. All participants are credited on the wall label.

By using methods and materials that are entirely familiar and readily at the fingertips of participants, the work is intended to democratize art, empower, and remove barriers to understanding and appreciation.

The event takes place over 4 hours in a free-flowing format. A long row of tables are set up in a public space with a roll of paper or canvas in the center. The placement of paint along the table is organized according to the basic elements of color theory, which is introduced as a point of entry. Participants are encouraged to paint freely, in any way that feels natural. Some paint realistic scenes, some write words, and some use the paint in an abstract and expressive way. Over the course of the event, the central paper is filled. Participants are invited to come and go as they please. Some people stay for hours, and some paint a little and leave. It is intended to be artistically engaging but not intimidating, so as to create and embrace a genuine creative moment.

The materials are transported to the artist’s studio, where it is repurposed into a new composition. The artists examine the content of the communal painting and cut it into long pieces, taking care to hone in and capture the essential gesture, marks, symbols, and character of the painting. The pieces are organized according to a geometric composition that provides a sturdy visual structure and offers clarity and form without compromising content.

The result is a striking accumulation of marks made by many people. There is a raw sense of creativity and self-expression. The marks are at once entirely distinct and cohesive in their quality. The final composition aims to capture and condense their energy, abstracting it further from the source in order to produce something truly collaborative and unique. It is exhibited publicly at the venue in which it was produced.

The Free Paint team is Natalie Kuenzi, Leonor Marion-Landais, Mat Tomezsko, and Ashley Renee Wagner.

*It should be noted that much thought has been given to adapting Free Paint to comply with public health guidelines and maintain safe social distancing.

Please click on any image to enlarge.