Arts & Life, Features

LBSU ceramics alumnus debuts newest exhibition

Nestled on a vast nine-acre property, Matt Wedel works from a studio where he creates immaculate and colorful sculptures, largely reminiscent of the agricultural plains of Ohio.  

Although Wedel currently resides and builds sculptures on his acreage in Albany, Ohio, his roots as an artist were began at Long Beach State.

Wedel has been immersed in art and the practice of ceramic making from an early age. His father was a potter and after studying and working with him throughout his childhood, Wedel decided to study sculpture at The Art Institute of Chicago.

However, when beginning his master’s degree of fine arts in ceramics in 2006 at Long Beach State, Wedel says he was in for a rude awakening.

“I learned that I didn’t really know how to make anything,” Wedel said. “While I feel like the Art Institute of Chicago taught me how to be an artist, Long Beach really pushed me to challenge myself and make things and taught me the true intensity of working hard as an artist.”

Wedel said his time at Long Beach State laid the foundation as an artist and helped him develop the style of sculptures he makes and shows professionally today. The ceramics program, along with its faculty, greatly inspired him as an artist.

“The department there is amazing and specifically Tony Marsh was a phenomenal teacher and allowed space for students to make work and explore and encouraged travel,” Wedel said.

Wedel said his experience abroad studying ceramics in Europe, was largely influential to his growth and development as an artist.

Wedel’s current exhibition, “Everything is everything,” is being shown at LA Louver Gallery in Venice from Nov. 14 to Jan. 5. Since his graduation in 2007, Wedel says he has built a strong relationship with the gallery, his third to be shown there. His first showing at LA Louver Gallery was a group exhibition, “Rogue Wave,” which celebrated the works of young Southern California artists.

“My inspiration behind ‘Everything is everything’ came from the concept of boundaries between different materials collapsing, whether that be the boundaries between photography and painting or painting and sculpting,” Wedel said. “I thought a lot about how ceramics are just now beginning to be accepted as an art form and this sequence of thinking about boundaries collapsing led to the idea that everything is everything. Specifically, for me, painting is sculpture  and that really informed this show for me.”

Wedel’s inclination toward ceramics came not only from his relationship with his father, but also its position in the art world as a less serious medium. As a young artist, ceramics allowed Wedel to explore art and begin creating without the dogma and pretentiousness that is often associated with other mediums of art.

“Ceramics has always seemed outside the language of arts,” Wedel said. “It has not always been treated as a legitimate material and because of this, it seemed like I could create my own rules and it also had a sense of familiarity for me because of my own background. It seemed like a good place to begin.”

After getting married, Wedel moved to his wife’s hometown of Albany. Wedel said he quickly fell in love with Albany and its agriculture, which inspires much of his work today.

“I began the practice of gardening and found an interest in agriculture, which began to influence my sculptures,” Wedel said. “The sustainable agriculture movement in this area serves as a hopeful influence as I explore the ideas of landscape through my work. Much of my work explores how art is able to represent both landscape and culture.”

Wedel says his motivation to create art comes from its ability to make him feel alive and fully engaged with the world around him.

“[Art] allows me to constantly be in a place that challenges my thinking, my habit and my understanding of society,” Wedel said. “It puts everything on the table for exploration and critique.”

Wedel’s gallery “Everything is everything” is available for viewing from Nov. 14 to Jan. 5, 2019 in Venice at the LA Louver Gallery. For more information go to to LA Louver Gallery website.

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