University of South Florida

College of The Arts

University of South Florida

Art Alumnus Adam Mathieu Co-founds Separate Checks Artist’s Collective

Wednesday, September 19, 2018 

USF studio art alumnus Adam Mathieu is the co-founder of a new Tampa artist collective called Separate Checks.

The collective unites fifteen artists, several of which are USF art alumni and current art students, to collaborate, exchange ideas, and develop an audience for their artwork.

"One of the best times of my life was when I had a studio in the College of The Arts," said Mathieu. "You'd have your best friend and your classmates in the studio right next to you. You could just hang out there before or after class and brainstorm or show them your work. It felt like you had this sort of creative hub, and that's what I was really missing."

Mathieu currently works as a graphic designer for Xcenda, a pharmaceutical consultancy. He graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio art with a concentration in photography.

Since graduating, Mathieu struggled to create art as frequently as he did as a student. He no longer had the daily support of his peers, and the challenge of working full time left him with less energy and time to devote to making art. Furthermore, he felt he didn't have an audience for his artwork.

But in June of 2018, Mathieu, along with USF mass communications alumna Katelyn Montagna, founded Separate Checks with the goal of having an art exhibition by the end of the year.

The members of the collective began simply with meetings to discuss art and what they find inspiring.

Then, they started to collaborate in art making. Some offered to model for photos. Others, like Mathieu, harnessed the new workforce to help with photographic lights in a new self-portrait.

The artists of Separate Checks found themselves beginning to make a creative environment like the one Mathieu experienced at USF.

With Mathieu's background in design and Montagna's expertise in advertising, they have created a cohesive brand that brings together the unique personalities of the individual artists.

Since launching their Instagram in June, the collective has posted content by its members nearly every day. To top it all off, they even have a one-night-only exhibition scheduled for October 11 at the Creative Loafing Space in Ybor City.

The debut exhibition, titled The Main Course, brings together new photography, sculpture, poetry, and installation works to show the distinct style of each artist.

Mathieu is seeing the collective bring new energy and opportunity to the artists. He says fellow Separate Checks member Kristy Summerson, like himself, also faced challenges in making artwork after graduating.

Now, Mathieu says Summerson has come back to life in her practice. He also reports he is getting more out of the collective than he originally anticipated.

The collective is already planning a second show for January 2019.

Separate Checks has even received inquiries from other artists looking to join. While the collective plans to keep membership at fifteen, they are open to collaborating with other artists whenever possible.

With a renewed sense of purpose, the artists of Separates Checks are on their way to finding new audiences in a creative environment like what many of them found at the College of The Arts.

For more on Separate Checks, including their upcoming exhibition on October 11, follow the collective on Facebook or on Instagram.

Selected works by Separate Checks

"Untitled (Outtake from 'She Is')" by Kristy Summerson. Shows a dark-haired woman.

"Untitled (Outtake from 'She Is')" by Kristy Summerson. Summerson earned a bachelor's degree in studio art from USF in 2017.

"Protraction" by Erika Schnur, former USF BFA student. Two hands holding melting icecream against a pink background.

"Protraction" by Erika Schnur. Schnur received her bachelor's degree in studio art from USF in 2017.

Photo of a hot air balloon with people in it next to a white suv

"Slow-Motion Coup" by Andres Ramirez. Ramirez is currently pursuing a master's degree in studio art at USF.

Photo of a butterly perched on a hand in front of a dimly lit hedge.

• "The Occult" by Krista Darling. Darling is pursuing a bachelor's degree in studio art at USF.