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Matjames Metson

Featured Structure Artist

Matjames Metson

Employing skillful assemblage and woodworking techniques, Matjames Metson incorporates found antique objects into elaborate mixed-media sculptures using only paint, glue, and matchsticks from the present era. The re-purposing of discarded and forgotten objects is essential to Metson's work; he spends a great deal of time seeking out items from abandoned buildings, estate sales, and friends' garages, among other places where one might find momentos and personal items. For Metson, each object has an assumed history — a resonance of an unknown past — which triggers an inherent emotional response in the viewer.

As a survivor of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina disaster, which displaced more than a million people from the Gulf Coast, Metson is driven by the concept of survival in addition to his obsession with hoarding forgotten objects. The hurricane destroyed his artwork, community, possessions, and livelihood, forcing him to relocate to Los Angeles with only his two dogs and the clothes on his back. The relics used in his artwork are assembled together in a way that reflects Metson's existential need to pick up the pieces of his life and create a new structure for his future while remembering and honoring the past.

In Tower, Metson utilizes and modifies myriad antique objects including time-worn rulers, pocket knives, keys, fountain pen nibs, printed ephemera, and children's toys. The wooden materials used to construct the architectural elements of the piece were sourced from vintage furniture, doors, and cigar boxes. Incorporated into the assemblage are Metson's signature motifs (wasps, eyes, skulls, rabbits) and phrases (such as "HARD WORK" and "HEAT KING"). At the top of the structure is a hand-carved golden wasp, a sample of the symbolism used by Metson, and an exemplification of his explorations in craftsmanship. The sculpture also features a crank-operated kaleidoscope displaying an array of vintage photographs.

Matjames Metson is a self-taught artist, carpenter, and architect known for his assemblage sculptures and his illustrative work. He has completed several graphic novels including Survivor's Guild, an autobiographical account of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. His work has been shown at Coagula Curatorial gallery, the Fowler Museum, and the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, among others. He was born in Charlotteville, New York and currently lives and creates in Los Angeles, California.

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