Tiffany Matheson was studying pre-med at CU Denver when she had an aha moment in an elective sculpture class. She was experimenting with everything from chicken wire and plaster to balloons and jingle bells, and the Denver native, who had never considered herself artistic, fell in love with art. At that point, her path totally changed.
Three years later, Matheson is the newest artist-in-residence at Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, where she hopes that kids have the same lightbulb moment during her in-studio projects that she had in that first sculpture class.
Kids visiting the museum can stop by the art studio during open studio hours to make art alongside Matheson. Her in-studio project pairs color and dimension, as she leads kiddos in creating 3D tissue paper flowers. Afterward, kids can take their flower home or donate it for use in Matheson’s final art piece for the museum—a massive flowering tree.
We popped into the museum to talk to Matheson about her residency.
Colorado Parent: What were you doing before becoming the artist-in-residence?
Tiffany Matheson: Before art, I was a returning student at CU Denver. I went back to school for pre-med biology, took a sculpting class, and I fell in love. Before that, I worked in international business in Manhattan for six years.
CP: Have you always made art?
TM: Not at all! I’m from Denver, and I had never even been to the Denver Art Museum before I took art classes at CU Denver. I haven’t had any art history classes, so when people name drop artists I just nod my head. I literally took my first art class to avoid a physics lab.
CP: What made you decide to pursue art full-time?
TM: I just loved it! I found it fascinating and I loved working with my hands. I love color and the way you can touch and play and really get creative and spread ideas.
CP: How did you decide on your in-studio activity for Children’s Museum of Denver?
TM: I wanted to come up with something that was under five minutes, that was good for a bunch of different ages, and that provided a good color selection, because I love color. I also wanted something that’s really playful and fun, that doesn’t have to be perfect. If you tear a flower petal, it’s fine, since flower petals tear all the time in nature. I wanted kids to get involved in something where they can create volume so they have a larger understanding of what dimensional art is.
CP: What has stood out to you about being the artist-in-residence?
TM: I really love watching the kids faces as soon as you peel back the first layer of the flower and they start seeing the flower take shape. They get super excited and have that, “Oh, I get it!” moment.
Need to Know: Make art alongside Matheson during her open studio hours, every Friday and Saturday through December 29, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Don’t miss the finale on December 29, with extended hours from 11 a.m to 3 p.m., when Matheson will present her new art installation to the museum.