© 2013 by MICHELLE MATTHEWS

2018 has been a good year for me.

 

In April 2018 I was invited to participant in a three-week residency at LA MERIDIANA, International School of Ceramics in Certaldo, Italy. Working in a private studio without any interruptions gave me the opportunity to develop a better understanding of color by testing various methods of application on different clay types and studying the chemical reaction created by mixing glazes.

 

In July 2018 I participated in the Atelierhaus Hilmsen Residency located in Hlimsen, Germany, a small village north of Berlin. The focus of this residency during a two-and-a-half-week period was to produce work for a final exhibit at the MÖNCHSKIRCHE MUSEUM, Salzwedel, Germany. Before arriving in Hilmsen, my goal was to use local clay to create a piece that reflected architectural details of the area. After visiting the Museum, I decided to create a 15ft column using PVC pipe as an armature supported by a wire hanging from the ceiling.

 

After my work at the Lawndale Art Center in Houston, where I worked with unfired clay to construct nine large scale sculptures, I knew what was ahead. The local German clay was 15-20 years old, left over from an out of business brick factory. The clay had been stored as wet bricks, and they had compressed into one large mass. During the first week, I cut out individual bricks and tested the clay to determine how it would handle. It was a long week as the bricks literally shattered in my hands. I needed 100 bricks to make my column but realized quickly that wasn't going to happened.

 

In my second week at Hilmsen, I moved my bricks of raw clay and the found PVC pipe to the Museum for installation. During the first day construction went quickly, but after eight hours of constructure, everything tumbled to the ground! I was left with fewer bricks and more shards: I needed a plan B. Through trial and error the final column emerged; the final piece referenced three elements of the Museum. The sculture's base, a combination of the local clay and local dirt, established a strong foundation. The bricks, made from the local clay, had been used in the construction of the Museum. And, I created the relief on the upper segment of the sculpture using the shards of bricks that mimicked the wood carving found on the interior of the building.

 

Building on experiences from Lawndale and Hilmsen, I am currently creating five large scale raw clay sculptures for "Out of Clay", a Sculpture Month Houston exhibition with Jeff Forster and Clara Hoag, on view at the Glassell School of Art, Orton Gallery Oct 9 - 28. My new works are a response to the hard edge lines and light of the new Glassell. I think of them as ephemeral sculptures in a permanent space.