WFMA artist interview: Matt Wedel

Famous ceramics artist opens up about his journey

Matt Wedel likes questions. The famed ceramic artist asks questions of himself and his work and hopes his audience will do the same.

He doesn’t provide answers. That’s up to his viewer. Boundaries intentionally are collapsing. A fragile existence is what one of Artsy.net’s 20 Artists Shaping the Future of Ceramics was going for with his recent work “On the Verge.”

“It’s stimulating to get people to ask questions, to ask questions about the material in their own lives,” Wedel said. “It’s the freedom to ask questions. Sometimes we feel like our questions are irrelevant, or are silly questions.”

The WFMA is excited to display Wedel’s latest work until Feb. 15.

“We’re excited to be in partnership with the LSU Museum of Art to bring these exuberant ceramic sculptures by an internationally known artist to Wichita Falls,” WFMA director Tracee Robertson said. “Matt has shown his art throughout the United States, in Canada and oversees in France, England, Denmark and Switzerland.”

Wedel loves the challenge of ceramics, the smell, the touch, and the certainty. He grew up around it. Wedel’s father was a potter, and “he wanted me to do anything but art,” he said. The younger Wedel didn't heed that warning. Instead, he watched carefully and followed his heart.

Wedel enjoys the process. He’s not trying to dictate the outcome as he allows the fire and his hands to create.

“You have a vague idea and start there, but it changes so much during the process,” Wedel said. “Sometimes you try to keep the work idea in place, but sometimes the work flows. There’s a moment of uncertainty. If I’m hesitant, then you can feel that in the form.”

One instance of uncertainty in Wedel’s journey was at art school. From an early age, he wanted to be in ceramic art once he gave up on “wanting to be a geologist, marine biologist, or a circus performer,” he said.

“It was an eye-opening experience going to art school. The ceramics community is very isolated, and so art school was mind-opening for me,” Wedel said. “You’re thinking about painting and performance and video art and sculpture and photography and all these other ways of thinking. I knew ceramic history and the beauty of that history.”

His background in ceramics, the lessons from art school, and his work with the earth as a gardener all shape his art. “It really framed how I thought about ornaments and the beauty of the ceramic material,” Wedel said. “The sacredness of it, the space, and how it can enrich our lives with the material.”

More on Wedel: Matt Wedel received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005 and his Masters of Fine Arts at California State University in 2007. He has won many honors and awards, including the Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council, and the Virginia A. Groot Foundation first-place recipient in 2019. For more information visit mattwedel.com.

About the “On The Verge” Exhibit: The exhibit was organized by LSU Museum of Art in collaboration with LSU College of Art and Design and LSU School of Art with support from The Winifred and Kevin P. Reilly Jr. Fund. At the WFMA at MSU Texas, the exhibition is made possible by the City of Wichita Falls through a grant from the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture, the Ceramics program at the Juanita and Ralph Harvey School of Visual Arts, and MSU Texas with support from the Museum Trust.

Wedel at the WFMA

Matt Wedel
Ceramics artist Matt Wedel

Art display at WFMA

Part of the 'On The Verge' display at WFMA

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