When it comes to making sculptures, Matt Wedel likes to keep it real.
“I am interested in the work not trying to be an illusion of something,” he says.
It’s immediately apparent from the seven ceramic sculptures on display at Second Floor that the artist has an affinity for truth to materials. Wedel coats his hand-built clay flower trees in candy-colored glazes in a way that emphasizes the material’s inherent characteristics. Often the thick, cloudy coating obscures the fine details of the petals underneath, overrunning the flower with a bubbly texture. Shiny brightly tinted glazes drip and run over the surface of flat matte glazes; glassy drops are frozen as they hang off the edge of the clay surface.
“With the glaze I am not interested in mimicking something or working with trompe l’oeil. It is simple glass and ceramic,” Wedel says. “I am not trying to trick the viewer or create a façade.”
Wedel’s rock sculptures jut out of the wooden floor like strange outcroppings on an unknown planet, one with an icy terrain. Here, his glazes are translucent; the paper-bag brown of the clay shows through the cool blue coating. His poodle and sheep sculptures are exactly the opposite—the glaze appears thick and dens, like a hardened shell. The sheep’s lemon-yellow surface reflects a dull sheen, while the metallic surface of the poodle glimmers in the light. Wedel says he uses real gold rather than an imitation.
Wedel describes the process of glazing as exciting and always in flux.
“When I apply the glaze, it is a much different color than when the work comes out of the kiln. No matter how much I know about the material it always presents something new.”
If this uncontrollable element results in any duds, they aren’t on display here. With his range of techniques and variety of colors and surfaces, Wedel creates sculptures that range from understated to beautiful to teetering just on the edge of tacky. Together, they make for an eye-catching exhibition.
Matt Wedel’s work is on display at Second Floor through October 30.