Artist spotlight: Matthew Ward
Matthew Ward x CC
“My artistic intentions veer more toward abstraction and the emotional functions of objects rather than literal representational depictions.”
Matthew Ward is a self-taught ceramicist, originally based in Brooklyn, who has since relocated his studio to New Mexico. Ward’s ceramic creations are both sophisticated and fun. They have incredible texture, distinguishable geometric forms and dynamic colorings. We asked Matthew a few questions for a deeper glimpse into his inspirations and the story behind the design.
You are a self-taught potter. How did you initially find your way to the craft?
Clay found me at a perfect moment in my life. At that time I had given up my studio space in Brooklyn and created a small studio in my home, which was mainly used from time to time for drawing and small sculpture projects. Let’s say I got a little itchy and needed a different creative outlet. There happened to be a pottery studio offering classes near my work in the city so I thought, why not? It didn't take long before I was fully engaged in making pottery. It was difficult at first, but I stuck with it and kept practicing the newly learned craft. It felt right to me at the time, it’s a therapeutic and meditative process that ends with an object that could be for use or just ornament, it’s kind of addictive.
Geometric forms play a big part in your designs. How did you develop this distinctive visual aesthetic?
That’s a hard one to pinpoint. I suppose it’s developed over my entire lifetime as an artist. I’ve always had an interest in the symmetry of forms and patterns and give credit to my appreciation for minimalist art and design. Personally, I am drawn to work that can capture and focus my gaze almost hypnotically. Motifs such as symmetrically composed dots or intersections of lines that equally criss cross each other's paths seem to reach beyond just the form that they are applied onto and influence whatever surroundings they are situated in. Naturally I am drawn to certain contours and combinations of shapes, I find comfort in trying to solve the problem of coordinating those designs and applying them to the best possible form I can make.
Do you express your artistic sensibilities in other forms outside of ceramics?
As mentioned, I used to paint. I studied painting in school many moons ago. In a humorous tone, I sometimes tell people that before making pottery I used to just stare at a wall, occasionally I’ll get a laugh. I do play guitar when I am feeling the right moment. My playing is not professional by any means. It’s something I do that is very personal and meditative to me. I’m my own worst critic and best fan of my humble strumming and plucking.
Color is something you play with fearlessly. You vary between natural earth tones and bright shades. Where do you draw inspiration for the colorings of each collection?
Color is a very personal thing. It can really affect your relationship and emotional response to whatever it is you are seeing that is presenting a particular color or series of colors. I find myself personally drawn to works that exhibit vibrant color accents than solid forms of black or white. Relating to fashion, I'd prefer to wear something that has a spectrum and range of hues than black leather boots, dark jeans and black pullover. Generally, I pick colors that resonate with me personally and that I get emotionally charged about and the hope is that others will also appreciate that coordination.
How has the studio move from Brooklyn to New Mexico influenced your work?
Oddly, I would have to say that the biggest influence has been to slow down. I found that the last few years while I was living in the city I was exhausting myself. I was fully engaged in the energy and pace of the city and the need to just survive and hold down both a studio and home while juggling my own personal life. The move to the southwest has been hugely life altering to say the least. I feel that I am just beginning to settle after being here almost two years. There've been obvious setbacks due to the overwhelming and at times suffocating events of this past year but the land out here has been a cushion for helping me to readjust and direct my goals and intentions for the future. I am positively sure that there will be an endless amount of creative exploration of new works coming out of the studio for a very long time to come. I feel so very much alive and at home here in the mountain valleys of Northern New Mexico.
Maybe you can give us a little peek inside the new studio?
Can you share a nature image from your phone?
We love seeing your adorable adopted chihuahua on your feed and would love to know a little bit more about him?
He’s the one everyone sees before me on the street and the one everyone is really talking about. Marcel is a 4 year old male Chihuahua and also a Virgo. He was a stray pup found in a suburb of Dallas, TX. I adopted him from a rescue and foster in NYC just over two years ago. He was very timid and scared at first, it's not a reach to say that he experienced neglect and trauma in his early formative years. The poor little baby slept under my bed for the first few days and would grumble and retreat whenever I’d entered his personal space. Fast forward to today, he’s a totally different dog. I bring him everywhere with me either in a tote bag or on leash he’s almost always by my side. Often when I am out and about people will stop and ask me about the little guy and mention that they have a few little chi chi’s of their own at home. Well, I was listening to the excitement of those strangers on the street because this week I adopted another pint-sized fur beast. Her name is Sugar, a two year old Chihuahua from a local shelter here in Northern NM. We’re all learning to get along, however I am now outnumbered.