Gallery Artists > Walter Matia Biography :

Walter Matia (b. 1953)  Artworks >>

Maryland-based wildlife sculptor Walter Matia, born in 1953, got an early start at paying attention to creatures that soar, crawl or hide in the grass. He was raised near a wooded park in a Cleveland suburb and says his boyhood days were filled with "bird-watching, botanizing, log flipping and collecting." As an avid duck hunter, he has experienced "a lifetime of icy mornings, blistered feet, mosquitoes, torrid afternoons, chapped hands, wonderful dinners and the companionship of great and knowledgeable friends"all of which he eventually translated into his art. Matia's early artistic leanings were encouraged by his parents and teachers. Art museums were a familiar part of life. From high school until a year or two after college, he spent every summer working in the exhibits department of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where details of wildlife and their habitats became etched in his mind. After earning degrees in biology and art design from Williams College in Massachusetts, Matia spent the next twelve years working for the Nature Conservancy. As vice-president in charge of land management, he traveled frequently, often visiting unusual ecosystems in the company of some of the country's best naturalists. It was an excellent opportunity to hone observation skills that later would come into constant use in his art. In 1986, Matia left the Nature Conservancy to focus on sculpture. His first subjects were birds, creatures he finds inherently beautiful. "Some of the leggy birdstheir gestures are so elegant, they're sculptural." A few years later, he moved on to mammals, beginning a long and happy relationship with such subjects as bird dogs, foxes and deer. Monumental bronze sculpture followed. Among Matia's larger-than-life-size commissions is the fighting bull logo of the Merrill Lynch Corporation headquartered in New York City. The artist was also commissioned to create a fountain and a wall frieze for Blair House, the U.S. President's official guest house in Washington, D.C. He has sculpted pieces for the Wichita Botanical Gardens in Kansas; Benson Park Sculpture Garden in Loveland, Colorado; and a nine-foot-tall eagle for American University in Washington, D.C. Matia's work has been featured in the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition; Society of Animal Artists shows; National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming; and the Prix de West Invitational at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. In 1996, Matia was elected a professional member of the National Sculpture Society. Matia aims for a visually pleasing balance between surface details, gesture and form. "Sometimes I want the surface to be "talky," where the surface texture says a lot. Other times, the line and silhouette are very powerful, and I want the surface to shut up. It's so important to make sure the surface texture doesn't overwhelm the volumes and planes, which are what sculpture is all about." After the studio work is done, Matia spends a considerable amount of time at the foundry, experimenting with patinas, and making sure the first casting in an edition is close enough to what he envisioned as he worked in wax. If it's not, a decision must be made about whether to go back and re-sculpt or throw the mold away and accept the mistake as another lesson for improving the next piece. "Satisfaction in this business comes from trying harder and harder things, and the death of your soul is when you stop trying to do harder things." Source askart.com

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