Matt Kelleher

Matt Kelleher

Utilitarian objects are accessible and universal. Their forms are recognizable and their utility makes them inclusive. I choose to make utilitarian objects in order to use these characteristics as a foundation for my ideas. This decision invites the viewer to discover my visual and tactile interests.


I develop my form by considering the requirements of utility. I challenge these assumptions by altering design to communicate gentle and self-confident shapes. I often explore specific design by playing with compositional elements. Volume, line, center of gravity, edges, spouts, handles, feet, or lids may all be altered in subtle degrees. I also fine-tune tactile elements such as weight distribution, balance, and thickness to explore the composition of a pot. I search for a poised form that captures the essence of utility.


The soda-fired stoneware surface is created for contemplation. Moods are suggested with warmth, fluidity, and translucency. Atmospheres are veiled with fog and cool mist. The vessels are covered with slip. Pouring and layering, I respond intuitively to the qualities of liquid. Glaze is applied over the slip to achieve two different results. On some forms, I choose to pour glaze to mimic the gesture of the slip. On other forms, I arrange glaze with controlled marks to punctuate the composition. The firing atmosphere dampens the surface, the slip warms up and the layering is revealed. The relationship between the form, the firing, and my hand is complete.


My work is built on consideration. I combine a subtle balance of geometry in form, a comparison of symmetry and asymmetry in decoration, and a serene surface. Softly, the work asks for the viewers’ attention.


In 2005, Matt made the decision to leave teaching and pursue a career in making through a residency at Penland School of Crafts. Matt has also been artist in residence at Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT (1999-2001) and Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park in Shigaraki, Japan (2003). As Matt continues a 15-year investigation of soda-fired tableware, he has broadened his interests to include sculptural vessels, bird inspired forms, and collaborative work with Shoko Teruyama.

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Matt Kelleher