Friday October 22, 2010 | by Kim Harty

3 Questions For ... Matt Szosz

FILED UNDER: Artist Interviews, New Work

Matt Szosz (pictured with face mask) and the team at Wheaton Arts & Cultural Center, working on what Szosz calls, "a hot glass marionette."

GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet: What are you working on?
Matt Szosz:
My work is all about material investigation and experimentation. This means a continual process of trial and error. I try to always have a couple of projects going in which I do not know what the end result will be, so I’m always learning something new. Consequently, I spend most of my time working with and managing failure. Failure is a great teacher. If you’re trying to take a process or a material toward the limit of your current ability, failure will quickly show you where those limits are.

I just returned from Canberra were I was the 2010 Proctor fellow at Australia National University’s Glass Workshop. The Fellowship gave me a chance to do a bit of thinking and experimenting. I was working with fusing assemblages of glass strips together, and then manipulating them in a variety of ways while they were hot. The matrixes that I created would expand and form more complex shapes under the influence of gravity or centrifugal force, and then cool and harden, creating temporary glass sculptures. I enjoy creating things which have a specific lifespan, that are as much an event as an object. This allows me to explore using time to help shape the work, as the pieces change both in form and state at a very fast pace. I’m a fan of things that move quickly.

I was also trying to adapt the process to smaller pieces that could be made in the kiln, and thus preserved. I had some success, but, as you can imagine, the pieces remain extraordinarily fragile.
GLASS: What artwork have you seen recently that has inspired you and got you thinking about your own work?
Matt: Recently I have been going back to look at the early work of Richard Serra, the lead castings, the props, and the Catching Lead video. He was engaged in a very disciplined investigation of expressing the properties of a particular material, which is similar to some of the issues I’m trying to think through with my own work. Creating clear expressions of how we experience materials, and how interacting with them shapes our idea of the world and what it can be.
I’ve also been looking at Robert Morris’s Felt sculptures, and reading his essays, in an effort to decipher how the prevailing ideas of materiality in art were codified in the middle of the century. I think there is a large broad history of fine artists working as material investigators that is largely ignored by contemporary contextualizers. How and why this happened is becoming something I am increasingly interested in, and i think should be of interest to most artists for whom the material comes first. And, of course, I’m continually fascinated by Roman Signer.
GLASS: Where is it possible to see you work?
Matt: I had a spate of shows over the summer (two at the GAS conference, two in Richmond, Virginia, as the Craftsperson in Residence at Virgina Commonwealth University, and at Bullseye e-merge). Though I’ve nothing firm planned at this time,I’m in the planning stages of putting together a juried exhibition of your artists working with glass in a sculptural manner for next summer’s GAS conference, maybe at Seattle’s Center for Contemporary Art. That should be exciting, so look for a website with an call for entries soon.Also, look for a show from me at Morgan Contemporary in Pittsburgh in the winter.

Glass: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for more than 40 years.