Potter’s Work Toys with Expectations


Ceramic artist and teacher Matt Towers is a subversive potter. “I work with porcelain for its associations with correctness, good taste, and social hierarchy,” he said, setting up the contrast, “so that I may reinterpret these notions in my pots and sculptural vessels based upon my own personal sensibilities as well as the contemporary world order.”

The resulting pieces challenge traditional notions of what a vase can be.

Towers, who also is an associate professor of ceramics at the University of Hartford, spoke to students during a recent assembly and visited two art classes, sharing details about his technique and what interests him as an artist.

Displaying photos and videos of recent work, he described how he makes forms for jade-green traditional plates and cups—and, on the flip side, how he creates towering, dynamic abstract wig-stand-type sculptures that reference historical notions of masculinity and power.

A video of an interactive performance piece showed how he (and his former student, now Williston’s painting teacher) Daniel Roe inserted electronic sensors into metallic glaze in basins that trigger video imagery. One clip showed Towers spraying hot pink nylon fibers to a form covered in adhesive, resulting in a fuzzy pink statue.

Art Department Head Natania Hume appreciated the undergirding to Towers’ work. “I liked that in his assembly presentation to the whole school,” she said, “students got a chance to hear about how artists are deep thinkers and can communicate a philosophy, concept or idea through art in ways that provide viewers with opportunities for further thought and to gain new perspectives.”

Towers himself said, “I employ decadence, sensuality, humor, and flamboyance to toy with identity as well as the meaning of function.”