My name is Matthew Madison Rowe. I am a ceramicist and have dedicated a large portion of the past 23 years to making bowls. But this is an oversimplification. Everything one needs to know about life, art, and pottery exists in the bowl. Every advanced technique is present in the basics. The Earth Portrait bowls represent the culmination of two years of dedicated experimentation. These are the first objects I have made that I believe are works of art. This style of bowl did not come to me in a moment of insight and was not the result of an artistic gift. It was suggested by a friend. I am absolutely delighted to say that the best thing I have made so far in my life as a ceramicist was not my idea. It was the result of communication, collaboration, patience, and discipline. Growing up in New Mexico, I admired the beauty of broken desert sand. For many years, I wondered how to recreate that effect. These works are an answer to that question.
The Composition and Unscripted Series represent my earlier explorations in wall-hanging ceramics. These works could be considered sculpted paintings and are influenced by Suprematist and Constructivist art. This influence is also apparent in the Black Square Series. The Symphony in White Series is titled as an homage to Whistler and aestheticism. Although I admire the concept of “art for art’s sake,” I believe it is unrealistic and misleading. The process I developed for these works is based on my ideal of discipline. I begin by taping a canvas board to the pottery wheel. I then cover it with as many different types of paint and in as many different colors as I have on hand. I then shape and texture the paint using pottery techniques and tools. What results is a psychedelic mess. After it dries, I begin the 100-Layers Technique, which was derived from a style I learned from the painter Joe Novak. Here, I mix up a very light wash of white paint and apply one or two layers every day until the whole painting turns white. This usually takes 100-200 layers. I imagine the process as similar to watching the colors fade from Ancient Greek sculpture—from gaudy polychrome to stark white. There is no way to rush this process—it is the extended duration of the process that gives these works significance and individuality. The theme that connects all of my work is methodical practice. It does not matter if I practice my art for ten hours or ten minutes, only that I participate in art every day. My focus is not on making works of art, but on transforming myself through art.