ARTIST TALK: MATTHEW CAMPBELL, 2020 MFA

Meet Matthew Campbell, a sculptor and installation artist. As a trained architect, Campbell’s art practice is informed by reflections focused on social conduct and philosophic ideas. He is interested in the intrinsic relationships among material objects and relies on physics for his investigations of the structure of matter and for grasping the big picture of how everything works together. Although matter is commonly classified as either natural or manmade, Campbell makes little distinction between the natural world and creative production. Campbell states “artists get hung up on artificial boundaries between things as a classification, but that doesn’t make sense in terms of how the universe actually works…the macroscopic and microscopic scale are related; human production is within those realms.” For Campbell artmaking falls under the aegis of universal principles. He is interested in the gap of uncertainty between seemingly ordered and disordered systems. His practice involves creating objects and situations that, while born from a rational process, surrender to discovery.

For Battin’ A Hundred Campbell created an installation called Sediments Sentiments. Organically shaped islands placed on metal stilts hover above the floor like earthly constellations. The grouping suggests a river delta complete with imaginary rivulets. Campbell contends that “the process of a river delta is complicated and appears random, yet it is organized within the natural world. One can predict where the river delta will be located, but one cannot predict the exact shape.” Robert Smithson, a land artist and favorite of Campbell’s, explored entropy as a measure of uncertainty or randomness. Like Smithson, Campbell embraces entropy and uses aerial images of unpredictable delta formations to inspire his 21st-century version of land art. Yet Campbell also places uncertainty in the viewer’s hands. Spectators enter Sediments Sentiments through the creeks or gullies and forge their own individual routes. As they drift through culverts while also soaring above, viewers simultaneously encounter the totality of the river delta and distinct topographic details.  As the earth and our environment face peril, Campbell gently recalibrates our focus and reminds us that the multiple perspectives of the macroscopic and microscopic are inextricably interwoven. The artist finds little separation between ecosystems, human beings, and artmaking. We are linked inside the big picture as part of the natural world, and what we do individually matters to the whole.

Fun facts about Matthew Campbell:  Matthew’s favorite food group is pie! He is influenced by the natural world and lives in Florida with his wife, daughter and son.

To learn more about Campbell and his practice visit www.m-campbell.com 

Learn more about Battin’ A Hundred at cam.usf.edu

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