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Review: Matt Wilt pushes ceramic boundaries

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 25, 2010 - Matt Wilt belongs to a new breed of ceramics artists who draw on the history and traditions of the ceramic medium while simultaneously pushing its boundaries into wider sculptural and conceptual territory.

The works in "Trials and Errors," Wilt's exhibition at Craft Alliance in Delmar Loop, reveal the artist's thorough knowledge of traditional vessel forms, wood firing techniques, lustrous porcelain finishes and rougher stoneware textures.

But the works are also inflected by the artist's interest in assemblage art, Surrealism and the visual vocabularies of science and medicine. Several of Wilt's works are medium-scaled arrangements, with bulbous, bag-like forms coupled with prosthetic hands, nipple shapes,or implements of unknown purpose, rendered in a variety of clay types and treatments.

Worked into the compositions are evocative found materials such as rubber tubing, bell jars and glass ampules. They suggest some sort of practical application that would make sense only in another universe or subconscious dreamspace.

Playful and slightly sinister at once, Wilt's works are reminiscent of Alberto Giacometti's Surrealist objects of the 1930s; Wilt also shares with Giacometti a concern for meticulous technique and precision in form. Yet the ceramics never get lost in the mix of media, and indeed the most visually absorbing aspects of these works are the various textures, colors and patterns afforded by the clay.

(Note - Wilt is a professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where Ivy Cooper teaches art history.) Ivy Cooper is the Beacon art critic. 

Ivy Cooper
Ivy Cooper is the Beacon visual arts reviewer and a professor of art at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

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