American artist Ross Matteson’s sculptures have a timeless appeal that goes beyond their subject matter. Influenced by the bird art of Asian, Egyptian and Northwest Coast Native American cultures – he has applied what he loves in these ancient visual languages to his own personal love and observation of nature. Daily experience in the Pacific Northwest working closely with live falcons feeds his inspiration and originality. The close relationship between his life and art is enhanced further by Matteson’s love of humanity and his desire to communicate metaphorically and above popular trends. His highly refined style has shown wide cultural appeal, as evidenced by sculpture sales in 15 countries worldwide.
Matteson's early artistic development is traced to an interesting and supportive family environment. Matteson was formally educated at The Evergreen State College, WA where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1980. A life long resident of Washington State, Matteson lives with his wife, Genny, and daughter, Alanna in Olympia, WA.
Matteson’s sculpture often interprets a bird or a group of birds in two ways; as a specific biological subject and as a metaphor. The support form or sculptural “environment” for a bird is important because it creates a dialogue with the subject and helps bring his metaphors to light.
Matteson is relentless in carving, forging or sculpting his materials to bring motion and life to the media. He engages in a high level of craftsmanship and hard work to express what he feels is the originality and spiritual essence of his subject and concept. Matteson has pushed and continue to push his materials. He tests the bending point, the breaking point, the melting point, the shining point and the roughing point of every bronze, stone or other material that he works with. He tests the reflectivity and light absorption of these surfaces in different kinds of light. He then applies this knowledge to reveal a bird’s behavior, its pose, its distilled silhouette, its relevant support form and context, as he feels it can be best described by that media.
A reoccurring theme in Matteson’s work is the sense of motion and life that can be brought to an inanimate material. Another theme he often explores is a subject’s relationship to its environment. His support forms subtly reflect his primary subject and rhythmically make reference to shapes drawn from within the anatomy of the bird or other subjects. This interconnectedness is a heartfelt subject for Matteson, since environmental issues are dear to his heart and experience.
Matteson’s visual vocabulary and sense of proportion have been developed with a passion for direct and disciplined observations. The experiences that he draws on include hunting with trained birds of prey. Even though the visual language of his art is often drawn from the wilderness and indigenous cultures of the Northwest, his themes are more broadly inspired by personal experiences throughout the world, contemporary social and political events and environmental trends. Elements of ancient Egyptian and Asian art also influence his work. Contrasting textures are a large part of his compositional pallet. Color is often a secondary consideration. Matteson works in both subtractive and additive sculpting processes, usually for a final result in bronze or stone. His processes include ceramic shell investment for lost wax casting, sand investment casting, fabrication, welding, tooling, polishing, plastering and carving.
Matteson’s intimate familiarity with birds along with his optimism and care about humanity, provide a plethora of related visual and tactile ideas to address concepts as diverse as: Spontaneity and discipline; Poise under hardship; Confidence and poise; Calm strength; Interdependency and invaluableness; Motion, grace and resistance; The past, present and future; The relationship between nature and humanity; The relationship between a living subject and its environment; War, power, control and balance; Life and death.