© Matt Schultz 1998-2023
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ARTIST STATEMENT IN GENERAL 2023
Pablo Picasso once expressed, "Every child is an artist. The challenge lies in how to preserve that artistic essence as we mature." Another prominent figure in the arts, Joseph Beuys, famously proclaimed, "Everyone is an artist." His words underline his belief in the innate creative potential within all individuals and the transformative influence of art in sparking revolutionary change. These two quotes succinctly encapsulate my sentiments about the realm of art.
At its core, I firmly hold the belief that every person possesses an artist's spark within. Additionally, art transcends the confines of being a mere "object" confined to galleries or museums; it permeates every facet of existence. This perception extends to domains beyond traditional art as well. I find chefs to be modern-day "sculptors," crafting displays of creativity that often surpass the impact of static sculptures found in public spaces. Their culinary constructions not only evoke a sculptural quality but also offer a memorable "performance" through the act of dining at their establishments. My encounters with indigenous shamans have demonstrated ceremonies that hold a power rivaling the most exceptional performances or ballets in New York City, accompanied by musical marvels that even surpass the compositions of Bach.
With the advent of Artificial Intelligence as a creative tool, we find ourselves ushered into a new era, one that transforms not only the realm of art but also the course of human existence. In this uncharted territory, traditional gatekeepers are fading into obscurity, granting every individual the ability to converse with a computer and generate the most extraordinary images their imagination can conjure. The fruits of this creativity can be easily translated into tangible art, printed inexpensively and proudly displayed on the walls of their homes. It is a newfound freedom, granting each person the liberty to fashion whatever their heart desires.
ARTIST STATEMENT ABOUT CERAMICS 2023
Initially, I saw ceramics merely as a medium, holding a rigid view of its potential. It took me a decade to realize the splendor and magnitude of objects built with Mother Earth. Whether they were sculptural or functional, these objects harnessed the power of the natural Elements to come to life. In fact, ceramics were among the earliest creations of humankind, playing a crucial role in our evolution to the present day, where we are intertwined with electronic devices and could be considered cyborgs. This realization has led me to explore the past, now creating objects from found clay bodies and crafting totems and instruments as if I were living ten thousand years ago.
Yet, it is not just the historical significance of ceramics that drives me. I have also had the opportunity to work with indigenous peoples across the Americas. I am honored that they have shared their knowledge of building traditional objects with me. From Peruvian whistling vessels used in sacred ceremonies to flutes crafted by Costa Ricans, I have come to understand the spirituality inherent in the medium of clay. I have witnessed practitioners dig from the Earth and shape her into forms, solidifying them using her trees and stones.
As a Water Pourer in sweat lodges, I have studied with Lakota and Mayan elders for many years, crafting my own ceramic vessels for sacred ceremonies, which deepens my connection to Spirit and my Ancestors. My affinity for working with clay is so strong that I feel a sense of deprivation when I am unable to feel it in my hands. It serves as my direct connection to Mother Earth, our peoples, and our shared history.
ARTIST STATEMENT 2010
In all the artwork I create, whether sculpture, music, design, or film, I seek to address the functions of belief systems. Specifically, I ask at what point does faith become industry, does mantra become repetition, does sculpture become manufacture, does entertainment become truth? And vice versa.
Through my own art-based exploration of these questions, I have come to believe that these tipping points exist in both space and time. As an artist, I experience this as a fusion between placement and timing. This critical inquiry has become embedded in my processes to the degree that I work my way through a piece of music as though it were a sculpture, as much as I listen for a melodic curve or a leitmotif when I sculpt. Furthermore, I see this same fusion reflected in the multi-media culture around me. Virtually everything is a form of sculpture or music. A song created with music software has the same building blocks as an object. In addition, the sound has a physicality that, although it cannot be seen, still exists in space. It is as much a part of space as is light or a room filled with objects. For me, pixels, sound waves, wood, ceramics, and bronze all function as matter that can arranged in both space and time. It is only when I play with both their manifest and unmanifest qualities that I am able to enter the conversation about the nature of truth and the function of belief.
Despite the serious, philosophical nature of my starting point, it is important that my work contains a sense of playfulness. The kind of playfulness I seek, however, is more akin to the behavior of a trickster. Specifically, I work with the manufacture of historical and ideological authenticity. Collectively, we put faith in our many systems of information and thought: media, politics, science, religion, etc. My desire is to question their accuracy, to ask if they’re telling the truth or perpetuating the status quo. I feel that art is the perfect medium for this inquiry. When done well, it can so accurately capture "the truth" that words still elude us. Yet we know it speaks honestly. This is the tipping point into which I wish to invite my audience.
In my most recent body of work, The History of the Division, I am dealing, ultimately, with the question of how the ego makes meaning, juxtaposed to the ways in which experience generates meaning. I do this by addressing religious ritual, belief in reincarnation, and the manufacture of spiritual artifacts. In addition, all the literature that surrounds this work --from the brochure, to the display placards, to the coordinating websites --has been crafted in true trickster style, replete with historic references that are both true and irrelevant, and just fascinating enough to keep pulling the audience in. Through both delight and deceit, by revealing and concealing, I strive to connect my own critical inquiry to the thinking of the people who view my work. If this sparks further questions, then I have done my job. If this sparks social change, then I have made art