CMA Stories

“Art is a form of healing, keeping traditions alive, and beautifying our surroundings” — 5 Minutes with Artist Destiny Mata

On Thursday, May 7 at 12 PM ET, artist Destiny Mata joins CMA Associate Director of Programming Raquel Du Toit for a virtual artist talk and studio tour streaming live on CMA’s Facebook page. The following day on Friday, May 8 at 1 PM ET, children are invited to attend Club CMA with Raquel: Lotería Game Boards, where participants will create their own lotería game boards celebrating the beloved female figures in their lives. Read below to learn more about Destiny and view her photographs. Click here to learn more about her upcoming artist talk!

Tell us about your art practice and how working with children inspires you.

Photography has been a creative, expressive, and therapeutic outlet for me. It has inspired working with the youth because not only am I sharing my experiences, I’m learning from them too, and am reminded to have fun and be free.

Your photography subjects range from high energy NYC punx to close-knit high school seniors, bingo players, and abuelas. Can you tell us about a particular memorable experience or subject?

The camera takes me on an adventure.  Discovering the un-ordinary and looking beyond the surface. I’ve photographed people and places that my heart gravitates towards. Being a part of my community is important to me and the work that I make. Growing up in the Lower East Side, making portraits of my neighborhood and elders whose family histories are deeply rooted in the Lower East Side have influenced the stories I continue to capture and preserve.

A memory which brings me back to summer are the seniors who play bingo on my block. You hear the music echoing through the streets, laughter, and joy from the group of bingo players. Reminiscing about the spirit that a game of bingo can bring to our community is something I hope to see more of outdoors this summer — more people coming together and finding joy.

What advice would you give to young artists who wish to pursue an art practice?

The advice I would give to young artists is to not be afraid to try different mediums. Finding my voice as an artist came with time and collaboration with friends and family.

Do you have a favorite memory of making art as a child?

A favorite memory making art was in my elementary school at PS 3. I remember the first time stepping into my art class room and the walls were splattered with dry paint and the floors also stained with paint. It was magical. I felt inspired and invited to paint just by the environment of the room and my imagination went wild.

Why is it important to make art accessible to all children and families?

It’s extremely important to make art accessible to all children and families because art is a form of healing, keeping traditions alive, and beautifying our surroundings. Art can make an impact and lead to positive change for future generations to come.

If you could choose any artist to create a portrait of yourself, who would it be and why?

I would choose Chicana artist Ruth Buentello to paint my portrait. She is a visual storyteller, and I can relate to the art she creates. Her work examines gender, culture, and place through use of paints and fabric to capture narratives of brown subjects and their relationships with domestic spaces.

View more of Destiny’s work at and follow along at @destiny.mata

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