Posted May 23rd, 2012
When artist Matt Johnson delivered his finished bear this week he said, “Nobody should move this bear but me.” Ensconced in metal, Johnson’s Steel Clad Bear was undoubtedly the heaviest bear in the room. He built a metal base for the bear and the entire sculpture is completely enshrined with reclaimed metal. It is bold and speaks of an intrepid approach, something that Matt Johnson is known for through his other creations. Viewers might be familiar with his spectacular sculpture Zag that was exhibited in Art in the Orchard.
In this Q&A, Johnson explains his process and shares his creative experience in creating Steel Clad Bear.
Matt Evald Johnson, Easthampton.
Where is your studio? What is your usual artistic focus/genre, when you aren’t working on a bear?
I work with steel, mostly reclaimed scrap, junk, discard and refuse.
How is the progress coming on your bear?
Progress is occurring, and as long as I keep making the problems happen all is well. (Molten steel and plastic do not like each other.)
What is the process you are using?
Welding and forging is the process and the work.
What materials are you using and why did you choose them?
How do they fit in with the theme for your bear? This bear has become yet another great place to begin a sculpture – to enter into the process that might bring about a fruitful encounter.
What is your typical genre when doing other projects?
Steel. Figuration, representation and abstraction.
What is the theme for your bear and what was the inspiration?
I wanted it to be steel and not plastic.
What are you loving about the project?
That it will be “permanent.” (Also exciting are) the surprises, the things unforeseen and the accidental missteps that must get willed-through to become points of interest.
In what ways do you hope your bear will move the folks who view it?
The bear will yield a smidgen of all that I have put into it. If they get some of that, they will feel a surge.
What else would you like to say about your project or the Bear Fest as a whole?
When art is even casually encountered, per chance, by the wandering public, they are (hopefully) confronted with unique sensations that resound thereafter in their memory. Art, when it yields, is not just visited, it is internalized.