Coleman ‘Coke’ Mattingly

Coke’s interest in photography as art began with his life in the military, serving in Germany and Vietnam. As a young soldier he was exposed to many different vistas and people in the world.  Some of his photographs were originally taken in Vietnam in 1971. After his discharge and graduating from the University of Illinois with a Master’s in Advertising, he worked for Caterpillar for 30 years, traveling throughout the United States and Canada, as well as visiting eight different countries in Europe. Through his military service, his time at Caterpillar, and his happy retirement, he has been fortunate enough to visit 21 countries.  With each trip his interest in photography as art has continued to grow.

Coke is a member of the Peoria Contemporary Art Center and the Peoria Art Guild.  He recently had a month- long exhibit at the Peoria Art Guild. He has shown his work at the Peoria Art Festival, Peoria Art Guild Member Show, the Sugar Creek Art Festival, and the Washington Art Festival, as well as having an exhibit in Lisle, IL and at the Clock Tower Museum in East Peoria.  Since retiring, he frequently teaches photography and art classes for the OLLI program at Bradley University. 

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Artist Statement

Image and imagination are the two words which drive my creative photography. I believe that just as in life, things don’t have to be accepted as they are. Settling for the obvious is not always the best way to connect with your inner person. My photographs capture images that stir some inner emotion, whether it is the colors of the world, the people, or just objects that I find interesting.

Beginning with my first tour of duty in Germany up to my last trip to Italy in 2021, I have been capturing a large variety of images and interpreting the world in different ways-which is what art has always been about. With the introduction of post-processing, the photo apps became my paintbrush. I found I could put my personal stamp on my photographs to achieve one-of-a-kind visuals. The imagination is not a thing to waste.

Coke artist self-photo