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Alumni Spotlight: Matt Manalo

Alumni Spotlight on Artist Matt Manalo ('11) Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting

"The College of the Arts has greatly impacted me as an artist. It has helped me to critically think about my own work and my process and it has contributed substantially in my present career." - Matt Manalo (BFA '11)


Q: What was the year and degree you received from The University of Houston’s College of the Arts?
A: I received my Bachelors in Fine Arts in Painting in 2011.

Q: Where has your [arts] career taken you since graduation?
A: Since graduation, I have shown my work around the country and have been featured in well-respected art institutions and organizations. I have also started a community in 2019 for creative Filipinxs called Filipinx Artists of Houston, which has over 40+ members. Also in the same year, I was able to start an alternative art space called Alief Art House which was made possible by my Project Freeway Fellowship with DiverseWorks.

Q: Is there one thing that has surprised you about a career in the arts that you didn’t expect?
A: If there was one thing that surprised me having a career in the arts is: the real social impact one has by creating work that goes beyond the walls or a gallery.

Q: What accomplishments in your career do you feel most proud of?
A: I would say I am most proud of being able to be a full-time artist, founding Filipinx Artists of Houston and The Alief Art House. The first one if for myself, the rest is for others —the community.

Q: Are there specific skills or things you learned at the McGovern College of the Arts that you find valuable in your career now? What are they?
A: The most valuable things I’ve learned are being able to criticize myself and be able to solve problems.

Q: Has there been any press coverage that you would like to share? If so, list links in your answer with any helpful descriptions.  
A: Yes, I’d love to share the most recent one about a webcast I participated in with Asia Society of Texas, and an article by Hyperallergic which featured my virtual performance with Common Field through Zoom.  

Q: What is coming up for you in the future that we should watch for?
A: I am currently working on new work which some will be showcased in a local commercial gallery and a future solo show. Also, more community/collaborative work with Filipinx Artists of Houston and Alief Art House.

Q: What advice would you have for incoming students who are focusing on a career in the arts?
A: My advice would be:  Take all the art classes you can. Listen to all the criticisms and take it by heart but deal with it with your mind. Meet a lot of people even if they’re not in your field/course. Collaborate. Make it a habit to look at art every single day.