Separate Checks

Adam Mathieu & Katelyn Montagna

Partners Adam Mathieu and Katelyn Montagna get closer with an artist on artist interview. Learn how they keep up with the process of making a career post college with their co-founded artist collective, Separate Checks.

Taking Down the Pole that Killed My Brother, 2016  - © Adam Mathieu

Taking Down the Pole that Killed My Brother, 2016 - © Adam Mathieu

Adam Mathieu: I am an artist based in Tampa, FL. I flow between both photography and performance art, with most of my performances being video documentations. My photographic work is mostly observational and unembellished whereas my performance pieces tend to be more personal and poetic. I’ve been fortunate to have my work featured in a variety of galleries across the globe and digitally on platforms such as Ain’t–Bad and Light Leaked. In 2018 I co-founded the artist collective Separate Checks along with Katelyn Montanga.

Katelyn Montagna: I am a Florida native and Tampa based photographer. I come from an advertising and commercial photography background. In school, I found contemporary art which helped me grow and explore making work about my family, adolescence, and the decisive moments of the place I never left. I recently co-founded Separate Checks, an artist collective, with Adam Mathieu.

Evanescent or: The Dissipation of Memory, 2017  - © Adam Mathieu

Evanescent or: The Dissipation of Memory, 2017 - © Adam Mathieu

Evanescent or: The Dissipation of Memory, 2017  - © Adam Mathieu

Evanescent or: The Dissipation of Memory, 2017 - © Adam Mathieu

Adam: I’m always amazed at how natural it is for you to talk to people at shows and galleries. You typically mention that you didn’t get a BFA and only took a handful of photography classes, yet you are a natural in this world. Why do you think that is?

Katelyn Montagna: I think I find myself more comfortable talking to people than standing alone in a new space. I love meeting new people, it’s one of my favorite things. I enjoy connecting with them, learning their processes, and find opportunities for new collaborations. Although, I sometimes feel like an outsider considering my day job in advertising consists of making content for large brands. That work is very different than the art I practice outside of my 9-5 job. I prefer to focus on quiet micro-moments when making art. It becomes smaller, more intimate, and really helps me separate the two worlds I enjoy to be a part of.

AM: When we started Separate Checks you had not yet been in a public art exhibition. Since then you’ve been on fire with showing your work - how does that feel? Why do you think you didn’t show while in school?

KM: I think it was a mental block and a slight fear of rejection. I think with any scenario where putting your personal work in the public's eye to be judged lends to some uncertainty and hesitation. However, once we started Separate Checks I felt motivated to submit work and wanted to push myself to be uncomfortable to grow. The first open call was almost on a whim. I just needed to make myself do it. To try. I’m still very new to submitting to open calls, but I’ve really enjoyed all the artists I’ve met through them. I also learned that even when rejection comes it’s okay because there are so many other opportunities and changes to fine tune my images. I’m always excited about sharing calls for work outside of Tampa. Social media has made it easy to find calls for work and it’s a great way to meet other artists who follow those same pages.

KM: What is it like living with me and creating art at the same time? How do you personally keep the balance between work, our relationship, and the process of making? Do you ever feel like it’s hard to make work in the same space as me?

AM: Obviously living together is great for a number of reasons. One of the best aspects that we’ve turned our apartment into a command center for Separate Checks. On the flip side, it can be challenging when we come home from working all day and have to switch gears to the art world. I definitely struggle with adjusting who I need to be at any given time – whether that be a graphic designer, photographer, curator of Separate Checks, or the boyfriend cooking dinner at home. So if anything is difficult, it’s just finding that mental balance. Yet, I can't imagine how boring life would be without having all these exciting projects to juggle.

Keep up with Separate Checks:

Instagram: @separate.checks