Matt has followed in the stylistic tradition of his father and grandfather, using a lathe and hand-forged tools to turn logs into sculpture. He commonly uses trees native to the South – wild cherry, box elder, sycamore, white pine, red and silver maple. \"I was an overnight success, but it took 25 years, \" jokes Matt, who began learning the art of woodturning from his grandfather, Ed, and father, Philip, when he was still a boy. Matt turned his first bowl at the age of seven. \"For a long time, I didn\'t have any aspirations of selling the work. I did it just for fun.” While he was in college, Matt learned how to apply finishes to the wood pieces. By the time he started graduate school, his skills had developed to the point that he was able to help his grandfather, who was suffering from a physically debilitating condition, complete his last few pieces. Ed Moulthrop died in 2003. Matt, has worked full-time as a wood turner since 2004.
\"Being a third generation wood turner, it seems I have spent my entire life surrounded by wood. As a young adult, I learned that the artistry of woodturning comes not from the hand, but from the eye. Being able to “see” the shape of the bowl has been a legacy and a gift I have tried to improve upon with my own vision and version of style, form, and texture. I strive to blend both tradition and innovation into an art form that honors my legacy and creates a new one.
Each piece I create is a unique experience for me. I endeavor to inject into each one a balance of color and form, shape and substance that fully displays the beauty and richness of the tree. Each tree has a story to tell. Wormholes convey past life, rings communicate growth, and certain colors indicate lightening or blight. My job is to tell the story, lengthening the life of the tree. My hope is to build a bridge between the natural and the artificial, by fusing the innate beauty of the material with a design that accentuates the splendor that is turned wood.”
Matt has created many commissioned works of wood from trees with personal or historical significance. Among the custom pieces he has completed are a large bowl turned from a portion of the famed Auburn Oaks now residing in the permanent collection of Auburn University\'s Jule Collins Smith Museum; a group of bowls commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association from a red elm tree that once lived in a garden outside the organization\'s building; and two bowls for The Columbus Museum., one made of reclaimed wood from the Columbus dam project and another from a tree that grew at the childhood home of Carson McCullers\\\' in Columbus, Georgia.
In 2012, Matt was selected to participate in the \"40 Under 40: Craft Futures\" exhibition of the Smithsonian\'s Renwick Gallery. In 2014, Matt’s turned-wood vessel joined those of his father and grandfather in the permanent art collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. The Moulthrops are only the second family with three generations of artists (after the Wyeths) featured in this collection.