Six Questions with Ceramics Artist and University of Evansville Professor Todd Matteson
New Harmony, Indiana (January 8, 2019) –The Mason-Nordgauer Fine Arts Gallery in New Harmony is continuing their new year series highlighting local, regional and international artists who are helping drive and define the rich and expanding arts scene in the tri-state area. In this installment, we chat with the talented and celebrated ceramics artist and University of Evansville Professor, Todd Matteson.
At a high level, Todd takes inspiration from the primal materials that he works in, the unconventional materials that he uses to augment the work (e.g. shelf lining paper), his Native American ancestors… and presents it all in forward thinking, contemporary work.
What art movements speak to you the most? In what direction do you see that movement evolving?
Believe it or not, but Suprematism and Constructivism. I do not think that people understand the thinking of Malevich or may not have read the Suprematism Manifesto. This was the start of abstraction, the start to a new way of seeing. To the Suprematist the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling, as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth. The artwork is created with feelings mixed with the idea of basic design elements, which have life. I think that is why I love to teach Basic Design.
What artist’s work takes your breath away?
Being a ceramic artist, I have always been astounded by Tom Coleman’s ceramics. His forms and glazes still astound me today. The richness of the glazes, whether one or multiple layers, adds to the beautiful form that lies beneath. His artwork is simply stunning.
Does art drive your travel / vacation choices?
Art does not drive my travel, usually, people and location do. But, we are always looking for opportunities to see Galleries or Museums or to attend an art festival. I am interested in seeing what artists are creating in other areas of our country. We look for wineries and micro-breweries too!
Do your friends and family hit you up for free art?
Not so much anymore. I cannot tell you how much money I have given away to family since I started making art. I only gift art away now (weddings, anniversaries, special occasions, etc.). I do donate artwork though. I feel that it is my responsibility to assist organizations with their growth as they help me as well.
Have you ever traded a piece of art for something?
I have donated artwork for tattoos! I love the idea of artwork for artwork. As a starving artist early on, I traded larger pieces for some ink. I had a former student who was a working tattoo artist going to school to get his art degree. We both supported each other.
Brag a bit… Do you have a piece of art that you created that you consider your “masterpiece”?
I do not believe in masterpieces. I have pieces I like very strongly. If I master my medium, then what else would I do?
When you create, what is the perfect environment? Music on? Coffee / wine / other? Morning / afternoon / late night?
I am a morning person when it comes to creating. I would rather work early and tire out later on. Plus, normally in the morning, there are no students around. So, I can listen to my music without interruption. It allows me to get my thoughts and energy together as one. If I am making my Native American inspired work, I listen to Native American music radio or cd’s. If it is traditional pottery, I have an eclectic mix from Keane, Johnny Cash, Volbeat, Beastie Boys, etc. Country can only be on if it is Classic!
Todd Matteson is represented by the Mason-Nordgauer Fine Arts Gallery in New Harmony, Indiana. See his work in gallery or online at www.mnfinearts.com.
More about the Mason-Nordgauer Fine Arts Gallery: A true urban art gallery in the middle of beautiful, historic New Harmony. The Mason-Nordgauer Fine Arts Gallery specializes in post-war, contemporary and urban fine arts… as well as an always changing “museum store”. Their collection rotates constantly and includes local / national / international artists who are pushing the boundaries of art (or have no boundaries). Don’t miss their amazing selection of investment pieces too.. Banksy, Max, Warhol and others. For more information, see them at 510 Main Street, New Harmony IN, social media or www.mnfinearts.com