Matthew Isaacson, Texas Sculpture Group

From Austin, Texas

Artist Statement:

This newer body of work consists of a series of planter’s wall tile relief forms and free standing biomorphic sculptures. The planters exude an exploration in both utilitarian form an abstract expressionistic surface like painting. In the fall of 2019, the progression of collecting and reclaiming from various studios such as the East Side Pot Shop and then other artists that have begun to donate clay since I moved to Austin. The laborious practice of drying, pulverizing with a sledge hammer, then mixing the various clays with other refractory materials; creates a new body that would otherwise normally go into a land fill. 

The method of recycling and re-claiming numerous clay bodies together creates a new substance that is extremely versatile, very plastic, has a density that holds its shape and ideal for growing all kinds of healthy plants that absorb numerous minerals from the vessel.  

Layering and merging underglaze pigments and firing some pieces 6 times or more in the kiln, creates a unique one of a kind imbued textured surface. 

The repetitive process of layering rich vibrant colors that were buried underneath and built up over time are now excavated. Each vessel has hours of wet sanding by hand put into them, utilizing various diamond grit pads. This intentional subtractive activity slowly begins to peel back the layers and a kaleidoscope of patterns and colors on the ceramic surfaces begin to emerge. 

Some inspiration comes from growing up in Northern Michigan and working on the many cherry farms of families and friends. I have fond memories of driving to work with my father at 4:00am and heading to work in the darkness and the early morning to then witness sunrise from the green and red fruit-colored orchards and observe the evening sunsets and being in such awe and wonderment watching the amazing colors blaze through the sky. 

While the sculpture forms deal with a more abstract figuration, they are pigmented with a rich, solid black color to exemplify the curvilinear and biomorphic forms. These sculptures are an exploration and revisitation from a previous body of work I created during my undergraduate and graduate school years. In sharp contrast, the wall tile installation or relief is a mandala with specific sacred geometry embedded into a simple wall tile that creates a colorful meditative backdrop. The figurative sculptures are intended to play off of each other as silent objects that quietly move with the pattern and trigger optical effects as the viewer interacts with the forms in space.

Artist Biography:

Matthew Isaacson was born in Traverse City, Michigan and grew up working on a large-scale industrial fruit-manufacturing farm, a background that continues to inform and inspire his work. His current sculptural work focuses on complex installations of high-relief-cast-ceramic-tile forms, which often reference architectural elements or ancient ziggurats that are fused with colored, geometric patterns. Matthew received his BFA in Painting alongside a Minor in Music from Western Michigan University in 2004. He then received his MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007; he was awarded the Graduate Thesis Dissertation Scholarship. Matthew moved to Austin, Texas in the fall of 2019 after excepting the position of Associate Professor of Art in Ceramics. He has exhibited nationally and internationally in exhibitions that include solo exhibitions at the Duane Reed Gallery and the Luminary Center for the Arts, and a group show at SPACE Gallery in Pittsburgh; he also participated in the Xin Jiang International Sculpture Exhibition in China. Matthew’s past artist’s residencies have been hosted by the Luminary Center of Arts, the Ox-Bow School of Art and Artist’s Residencies, and Sugar Maples Center for Creative Arts. He has attended the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and the Pilchuck Glass School.