May 1, 2023 – June 30, 2023 all-day
The Courtroom Gallery @ Gettys
Gettys Center
201 E Main St, 2nd Floor, Rock Hill


Mat Duncan

MAY 1 — JUNE 30, 2023
RECEPTION: JUN 15​ @ 6:30–8:30PM in the Courtroom Gallery@Gettys


exhibit overview

The earth and ecology that once determined human lives has given way to the atemporal stoicism of technology. Work filled with floating symbols, secretive figures, and mysterious sources of light—drawn from classical paintings and liturgy—beckon us to remain human.

exhibition statement

The old, cyclical order of the earth and ecology that once determined human lives has given way to the atemporal, uncaring regime of technology. The present grows more chaotic every day; symbols and images detach from their original meanings and associate in new ways. I depict human hopes and fears against this new background. I fill my work with floating symbols, images with multiple meanings, mirrors, secretive figures, and mysterious sources of light. I combine motifs from classical paintings and the liturgy with references to niche internet communities and the iconography of smartphones, satellite imagery, and commodities. I draw and paint everything by hand, but I sometimes work with a stylus as well as a paintbrush, or paint on industrial plastic instead of paper or canvas. Overall, I want to find a way to make sense out of the visual chaos around us—distill and synthesize some of the contemporary human experience, crystallize it into a small moment of beauty. As our relationship to the earth changes, we can’t help but change as well—but beneath the endless simulation, imitation, mass production, I have faith that something human yet remains.


Mat Duncan holds a BFA in Printmaking from Winthrop University, an advanced Art & Art Theory certificate from Winthrop’s sister school, the Saimaa University of Applied Sciences in Imatra, Finland, and a master’s degree in Museum Studies from Harvard University. In 2021 he was awarded the Dean’s Prize for Outstanding ALM Capstone for his Harvard master’s thesis, “The Sustainable Museum of the Future: How New Capital Structures can Prepare American Museums for the Next Global Crisis;” and in 2022, he was named a Distinguished Alumni by Winthrop’s Faculty of Fine Arts. Duncan currently works at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, where he oversees the Museum’s individual development programs and raises funds for international exhibitions, capital projects, and community outreach—including the Bechtler’s “Justice Arts” program, which places artists in Mecklenburg County’s jail system, empowering youth and adult residents through art-making workshops.

Duncan primarily works in acrylic, watercolor, and gouache on paper and mylar. His recent work focuses on ecology and explores how, as our relationship to the earth changes, we sometimes change along with it. He describes his own works as brief snapshots of dreams or nightmares, depicting human hopes and fears against the backdrop of a distorted natural world. Duncan’s paintings and prints have been exhibited in numerous solo and group shows and have been acquired by public and private permanent collections in North and South Carolina, most recently at University of North Carolina Asheville’s 13th Annual International Contemporary Drawing Exhibition, “Drawing Discourse” in Winter of 2022 and Indiana University Kokomo’s exhibition “Biosphere” in Summer 2022. Duncan’s practice also encompasses creative writing, poetry, experimental music, and performance art. He has authored and published two books of poetry, Newark International (2012), and The Blood On My Hands Is Mine (2014); and as a member of an immersive music and performance art project called “Mall Goth,” Duncan released a full length vinyl LP in 2018. He continues to pursue painting, printmaking, and performance art projects in Rock Hill, SC and Charlotte, NC, and advocate for institutional change as a member the American Alliance of Museum’s Environment and Climate Change Network.



The Courtroom Gallery

Courtroom Gallery
Gettys Art Center
201 E Main Street
2nd Floor

Gettys Art Center hours:
Monday – Friday | 9 AM – 5 PM

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