Way back…Mathew McConnell…thought he would be a dentist, until he landed in the clay studio. Why ceramics? He loved the idea of doing something hands on and really direct. Mathew holds an MFA in Ceramics from the University of Colorado at Boulder (2009) and a BFA in Studio Art from Valdosta State University (2004).

Now fast forward to his time as a technician at Edinboro University where he also worked for Petro Molds  in Waterford, PA as freelance mold maker and casting specialist. Mathew admits to being a perfectionist when it comes to mold making. He landed his job at Petro Molds by bringing a mold to impress the owner of the shop and by the time he left his first visit/tour he had a job working there.

Early on, Mathew knew he would be “selling (his work/concepts) to academia.” Currently he has a position as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Ceramics at the University of Arkansas but would welcome work outside of academia too. Perhaps in some kind of manufacturing…mold making…design that calls on his skills, knowledge, and experience. Part of him welcomes the day when he can put his background into motion; an Andy Brayman model of manufacturing and production.

When asked about clay’s presence in the contemporary fine art world, Mathew thinks that clay is one solution for the desire to get back to basics. It is the best material for gestural form, and human touch; it is immediate and expressionistic. Truly, this is why so many of us have landed in clay, it is the very reason we have fallen into a romance with the material. Contemporary art is dwelling on the most basic associations with touch and material and clay is perfect for this.

When asked about the “Replicant Object”, as mentioned in artist statement, Mathew expresses that it is an experiment, not a statement. Behind the experiment is the question; “What happens if I very consciously land on a specific reference for each piece that I start or each decision that I make; that the object stems from something tangible.” He states that there is always an original, the thing that is duplicated. The space between the thing that you make and the thing that is already in existence helps to understand the self, objects, what it means to make something.”

Mathew references work that is as contemporary as possible and that is in major museums or publications, recognized as advanced contemporary art. He sees the value in the present moment and for him, the studio is the place in which this formal investigation occurs. Within the gesture of remaking an object he says that there is a meditative act of dwelling on creative practice as a whole. Learn more about Mathew and his work on his website.

Look for Mathew’s work at the following upcoming shows:

“Under the Table,” at Texas Christian University, November 2012 (curated by Margaret Meehan)

“Clay on the Wall,” at Texas Tech University, January 2013 (curated by Glen Brown)

University of Missouri (Solo) February 2013

Valdosta State University (Solo) February 2013

“Richmond Ceramic Invitational,” at Virginia Commonwealth University, September 2013 (curated by Jason Hackett)