Yellow Squares, or The Opposite of War

A Space for Loving, Living, Laughing, Mourning, and Healing

Why paint a square?

Because the square is simple and straightforward and honest. When I came home from the war in Iraq, I was confused and angry. But I came home – that’s just it: I came home. My yellow squares are an expression of gratitude, a celebration of the life I get to live.

– Matthew Boulay

Before I was an artist, I was a Marine and my war – the war in Iraq – was a fake war but I was there and my ears still ring with the sound of the rifle blast that killed the first Marine to die in the war. He was 19 years old and he died instantly, a single bullet to his head, a suicide, the suicide of a boy soldier who was confused and scared and alone.

The war was fake but that Marine’s suicide was real and when the military flew his body home it was under the cover of darkness because the country was ashamed and, like him, confused.

That young man and our collective ambivalence inhabit every painting I make – and yet, something is missing from art that is made only from a place of anger and sadness and regret. It took me years to realize that we can’t observe and mourn the sadness in life unless we also celebrate the joy in life.

The yellow squares are meant to be vivid and joyful and alive – like all of us have been at some point. And the room is meant to be the opposite of war, a space for healing, for private thought, for holding hands with your lover or coddling your baby, a space for sitting in silence with your aging father as you feel his love and fear his slipping away.

Yellow Squares is a space that is always free and open to the public. All are welcome.

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.