Matt Wilson was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, and from a young age showed, not only an interest in art, but an innate creative talent.
His senior year of high school, he was accepted to attend studio arts classes at the Fine Arts Center of Greenville, the first specialized art school in the state.
From 2002 to 2005, Matt attended Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., where he worked on an arts degree in drawing and painting.
In 2006, Wilson was not only ready for a change in scenery, but also for a change in medium. He moved to Charleston, S.C. and became interested in metal sculpture and motivated to learn a new skill. Following a job lead, he gained an interview with Detyens Shipyards for a welding position.
Upon interviewing with Loy Stewart, the owner of Detyens, he was offered a unique opportunity – to become the resident artist and learn how to weld. Matt’s primary job is to build metal models of the ships that are serviced in the shipyard.
The models are then given to the port engineers as a “thank you for your business”. When he’s not building ships, he is is working on commissioned pieces or creating new art.
by Amy Stockwell Mercer
Matt Wilson’s workshop is filled with clutter and chaos.
A large, waist-high table is littered with hammers, an old fan, and a toolbox. There are piles of old spoons, forks, and knives. Wilson is always on the lookout for “found objects;” he rummages junk shops and going-out-of-business hardware stores to add to his vast collection. Where one person sees a jumble of junk, he sees the beak of a Red-Tailed Hawk orthe leg of a lobster.
“It’s taken me years to collect all my materials, and I’m continuously developing my skills to work with these materials. I spent most of my life as an artist working in 2-D, drawing and painting. When I moved here eight years ago (to work as Resident Artist at Detyens Shipyard), I wanted to try a different medium, metal sculpture, and learned how to weld.”
Welding is loud, hot, and physically demanding work. Wilson wears a mask to protect his face from the flames that transform utensils into a delicate bird, or dental tools into a crawfish. His sculptures are playful and unique. Many of the birds and fish are small enough to hold in your hands, and all reflect the natural environment.
“I definitely think artists can bring awareness to the way people think and feel about the environment, in hopes of bringing forth proactive discussion and change.”