Rawnek Marroki looks at a painting made by her son, Matthew, along with Sandy Babble, center, and Eddie Babbie, of Troy, during the “Matthew’s Masterpieces Charity Art Exhibit” April 29 at the Troy Community Center.

Rawnek Marroki looks at a painting made by her son, Matthew, along with Sandy Babble, center, and Eddie Babbie, of Troy, during the “Matthew’s Masterpieces Charity Art Exhibit” April 29 at the Troy Community Center.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


Art show exhibits late Sterling Heights teen’s work

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 8, 2018

 A piece of art by Matthew Marroki-Yaldo is signed with his initials.

A piece of art by Matthew Marroki-Yaldo is signed with his initials.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

Whether it’s the “Mona Lisa” or “Starry Night,” a masterpiece can extend an artist’s legacy long after death or give a key insight into who the creator was.

And likewise, family members of Matthew Marroki-Yaldo, a Sterling Heights teen who died last year in a home fire, want the public to experience his prolific body of work. 

“He was extremely passionate, hardworking. He was extremely creative,” said Stephanie  Marroki-Yaldo, Matthew’s older sister. “He was very artistic from the beginning of his high school career.”

Matthew’s family and supporters held a public art exhibit called the “Matthew’s Masterpieces Charity Art Exhibit” April 28-29 at the Troy Community Center. The event was meant to honor Matthew, a Sterling Heights resident who died in a home fire on April 28, 2017. He was 17.

While Matthew perished in the fire, much of his art survived and was able to be restored. More than 200 pieces of his artwork were displayed at the “Matthew’s Masterpieces” event, his sister said.

Stephanie, 22, said she organized the art fair as a way to celebrate her brother — a teen who loved to create and be active in the world.

“He basically dabbled in all forms of art,” she said. “He painted, he sketched, he made mosaics. He did a bunch of digital media art. He was, like, a Photoshop enthusiast. He even made clothing. He was a part of the school’s fashion show every year he was enrolled.”

Matthew attended the Utica Academy for International Studies in Sterling Heights and was an honors student with dreams of pursuing architectural engineering in college.

Stephanie said her brother was involved with a charity called Freedom House Detroit, and proceeds raised from ticket sales for the art show were donated to that organization. The nonprofit assists asylum seekers and refugees.

“He was also a huge advocate for refugee rights and basically anyone that was underprivileged,” she said. “He was part of the Amnesty International club at his high school, as well as Key Club. He was on the debate team, and he was enrolled in a whole bunch of (Advanced Placement) art classes.

“So he did a lot of volunteer work. One of the last things he worked on was for Freedom House Detroit, to gather supplies for the asylum seekers that they assist there.”

Halim Sheena, who sits on the planning committee for “Matthew’s Masterpieces,” described what he saw of Matthew’s artwork.

“Honestly, the impression that I got out of it is that it looks like it’s done (by) someone with a lot more years of experience than he has,” Sheena said. “It’s extremely detailed … and it seems he kind of enjoyed the theory behind art too.”

With the art show now done, Stephanie said her family is thinking of other ways to keep Matthew’s legacy alive, such as doing random acts of kindness.

“There are thoughts of a possible scholarship in his honor, since he was very academically inclined, and he really wanted to help students who couldn’t possibly go to college or university, so that’s a thought,” she said.

Learn more about Matthew’s art and the art show by visiting www.instagram.com/Matthews Masterpieces.