Matt Hutton earned his BFA in woodworking and furniture design at the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, Indiana and an MFA from San Diego State University. Matt has also studied woodworking in England and Japan. Over the past fourteen years, Matt has been an instrumental leader in establishing a nationally recognized woodworking and furniture design program at the Maine College of Art in Portland, ME, where he is currently an Associate Professor.
Matt produces work for sale and exhibition at STUDIO 24b in Portland, ME, a 650 sq. ft. artist studio that Hutton constructed in 2009.
My recent work explores process, utility and form. This work focuses on the transformation of the Midwest landscape, particularly that of farmlands that have deteriorated due to inactivity and redevelopment. These works are also inspired by the idea of nostalgia, independency/dependency, fossils, barns and grain silos, water towers, roadway billboards and other architectural elements that have interest in mass, volume and gravity that riddle this landscape. While often dilapidated and degenerate, these architectural landmarks continue to endure amongst the contemporary sprawl and it is from these that I pull information of time, history, layers and information of structure and construction to create functional objects.
What are your 3 favorite things about Portland?
Seeing the ocean everyday. The peninsula. Being able to navigate a relatively small piece of land and have access to everything that I need, all the while being surrounded by historical buildings, waterfront and ocean breeze. I enjoy Portland’s proximity to NYC & Boston. Portland has so much of what I need in a city environment but scaled back to a relaxed atmosphere. However, when I need Boston & NYC it is very accessible. Portland’s attitude. There is a no nonsense attitude that prevails. It’s a humble city that embraces change and growth while preserving it’s rich history.
What are the 3 things visitors/residents must see or do while they’re in Portland?
Always connect with water. Visit a beach or walk Back Bay. Eat. Eat at one of so many great places, but make sure you eat out. Walk the streets. I always encourage guests to walk. Take some time to visit the stores, markets and views while on foot.
When we say "Beyond Words", what comes to mind first?
Experience. Much like the many things that make Portland so great. They need to be experienced to be fully appreciated.
What are some of your artistic influences?
I am always inspired by architecture. Often times it is vernacular architecture. I’m interested in structure and how objects are supported and articulated. I’m inspired by wood as a material. I’m constantly influenced by techniques, which are tied to woodworking process as well as looking to new and innovative methods of building. I’m always looking for the correct process for each piece.
Who are some artists to watch out for in Maine and why?
Adam is an artist that is very conscience of his environment; he’s a skilled maker and savvy with technologies, both old and new.
When it comes to your process, what part of it do you most look forward to?
I enjoy the making aspect. Designing and conceptualizing is great, but the physical aspect of making the work is a process where I can focus in a way that is unlike any other that I am aware of. The connection with mind and hand is most exciting for me.
What kind of environment does an artist like yourself need, in order to create? Does Portland/Maine contribute to your work, in any way?
I need a full wood studio to create my work. To be honest, it is quite difficult to find such a place here in Portland. I have been very fortunate to be able to create that environment in my own studio located at my home. Without the ability to have a full studio so readily available to me, I would not be able to be so productive and maintain a healthy connection to my family. That’s the technical aspect of the environment. However, the conceptual side is certainly met by Portland. The supportive relationships with friends, colleagues and businesses surrounding my work are very strong here. The rich history of woodworking and wood product manufacturing is beneficial to have as well.
Portland is very influential to my work. Much of my inspirations come from the landscape, both natural and built. The rural architecture as well as the historical here in Portland plays an important role in that process. I’m also constantly attracted to the waterfront landscape and the boat building industry that is so closely tied to it.