JG: Evolution over adaptation?
MW: Yes, there’s more to evolution than adaptation. Adaptation is a part of it as is competition. Me and my ideas compete with others and their ideas. My doppelganger could be you sitting across from me having the same emotion and servitudes but saying, “this is the way.” We can only get so far because we’re so confident, so we’ll have to agree to disagree.
JG: Imagine what your work would look like if you had taken a class on Martin Luther.
MW:(laughs) It’s not that I would have been a slave to any subject matter in that class. For a long time I was finding a lot of disbelief or had a hard time digesting religion and how it was told to me as what to believe. Ever since I was really young, I’ve always been quite thoughtful about these things and specifically religion. I’d think I don’t really believe that so much. So, I was very intentional about setting out on a long-term path to discover where religion came from, how we came about as humans, and to learn about other religions and other worlds. That really took me to a place where I was ready to digest evolution and at that point it resolved everything so beautifully, so crystal clear, where everything fell right into place.
JG: Why aren’t you a scientist?
MW: That’s really crossed my mind. I have yet to fulfill that statement in a way. It’s an ongoing conversation that I pose to myself.
Essentially, it’s a matter of responsibility, to nature in a way, first as an artist making something, but beyond that, more environmentally speaking, as a producer of something, feeling that it is incredibly important for people who produce things, especially artists, because there is so much attention given to them so they’re most responsible. It’s an incredible opportunity, but it’s also important that you don’t waste that effort and those materials and everyone’s time with creating waste. That’s really what it comes down to, its the balance of is this worth its creation. Lots of things I’ve made probably most aren’t.
JG: You show it anyway?
MW: I’m referencing the past, most of the things on my website. It’s not a good or a bad thing. Its just part of my ongoing evolution as an artist. I’m just a person learning, growing and gaining so much perspective that I can have a better understanding of what I can look back on.
JG: Is your art completely about the message?
MW: I kind of divide my art up between the work itself and the principles behind it. There’s philosophy and art making. My work is more philosophy based and driven. The art making part is more craft.
JG: Those lines seem blurred.
MW: They are blurred and sometimes they come together in a really great way and that’s what I’m striving towards, but sometimes they don’t. For instance, take the St. X tiger statue. That was not something I would have made on my own. It would have been a great exercise as an artist, life studies, etc. and I very much appreciate skill, craft, talent and development of ones capabilities, which is a more classical sense of art and what a classical artist is.
I created the tiger project for myself. I went to them (St. Xavier High School) and said, “you need a big bronze tiger and you need to hire me to do it.” So, that was a step beyond the art making/craft/philosophy context. Because the idea of it worked, I was able to continue working and surviving as an artist. That was a good job for me and I wanted to do a good job of it. It was a serious project as well. It took an entire year to complete and some of my darkest days were in the middle of that project. There was a lot of sleepwalking, waking up with night terrors. I’d wake up from a dream that my mold failed or the whole thing fell apart. I wanted it so right and it was such a huge job. I had never done anything realistic before that. It was a great challenge. A lot of people’s best work comes from great challenges.
Matt Weir's St. X Tiger