Two black, sculptural works by artist Matthew Ward on a wooden bookshelf at Uprise Art.

Where are you from and where do you reside?

Born in Omaha, NE 1976. Raised mostly in Boston, MA. Currently living in New York City.

Are you formally trained?

I grew up in an artistic household, I was encouraged to be creative from an early age. I went to Art School for painting and sculpture. I found ceramics later in life, sorta on a whim I took a pottery class in the city. I thought it would be fun, and it was, I become healthily obsessed with making works in clay.

Do you you still paint?

In a traditional way, no. I haven’t stretched a canvas and had the one-on-one staring match with paint in hand for well over a year. Doesn’t mean I won’t contend with a painting in the future, I’m still passionate about painting so there a good chance something will come out of me sometime soon. I have been thinking about monotype printmaking lately, this might be something I may dive into in the near future. I have also been brainstorming on a few new ceramic works that are to be wall mounted and will be expressive in nature.

Journal: Matthew Ward: Gallery

When did you begin your current practice?

Seven years ago.

Why did you choose to work with ceramics?

Ceramics came to me during a period of time when I was taking a brief pause from painting and general studio art making. I was curious about clay and decided to take a wheel class at a local pottery studio in the city. Before that time I had never touched a wheel and rarely used clay in a formal way. There was a very immediate pull and connection for working with clay after the first class. I was attracted to the physical nature of working with and manipulating the forms that could be either be self-controlled or haphazardly created. After much practice, I was able to explore more details, like adding visual and decorative techniques to the surfaces of the forms I was grappling to make as a novice. It proved to be a wonderful union for my artistic desires of making paintings and sculptures and an infinite way to create sublime objects.

What’s one of your favorite objects you own? What’s the story?

AH! I’m a pretty avid collector of things, sometimes too enthusiastically of good design and objects. I have a handful of favorites and treasures that have been with me for some time. A piece that has a lot of meaning for me is a simple, plum-sized clay sculpture resembling a brown bookcase a la The Flintstones. It was made by a close friend of mine when she was in grade school. It always rests on whatever bookcase I have at the time.

Is there any artwork on display in your home/studio? Whose is it?

Besides my studio being an important working environment, my home has always been a sanctuary for me and things that I appreciate in life. I have an extreme fondness for Modernist Design and the Mid Century living aesthetic. I have several pieces of early production Eames furniture pieces, a collection of vintage Italian lighting, a rare brass sculpture by Harry Bertoia, and a lot of anonymous art and pieces that I just enjoy and keep for inspiration.

Journal: Matthew Ward: Gallery

There are times when I have a very specific pattern in mind and develop the form for pattern, knowing that the design is already resolved. In a less dictated way, I make a collection of forms and let them guide me as to what pattern is going to best suited on them.

Matthew Ward

What's a typical day in the studio like?

There’s really never a typical day for me. It’s easier to expand the time frame to a month. Typically I am working towards a large collection of works to be fired at the end of each three to four week cycle. Since my method of working is very process driven there is time required for initially making the work, letting the clay settle, designing pattern, firing, glazing, and more firing. And of course there is also the business side of things too… let’s save that for later!

Do you prefer to start with the shape of the work or do you ever start works thinking about pattern?

Actually I prefer to work both ways, as they are sort of interchangeable means for producing works. There are times when I have a very specific pattern in mind and develop the form for pattern, knowing that the design is already resolved. In a less dictated way, I make a collection of forms and let them guide me as to what pattern is going to best suited on them. This way of working is a little more fun and lets me have a playful inner dialogue with the work.

What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?

For me I enjoy every bit of the process of making my work, which is good because I am always working. For me personally the most difficult side of creating work has been the anxiety of waiting for the final outcome. With my ceramics work, there is an incredible amount of energy put forth in making a body of works. Some are predictable and others lay on the experimental side. Once you spend hours of intimate and nurturing time creating these works they are loaded into the kiln and exposed to extreme heat, transforming into their new permanent state which is, to a certain degree, out of your control.

What’s next for you?

I always try my best to stay in the moment. When I look back on the last few years it’s amazing to see the path that I’ve been lead on and the opportunities that have been awarded to me. What’s next is to hopefully continue with what I am doing and to mature and grow within my own practices and create a more widespread audience for my work.