Matthew Palmer will enthrall you when he describes his art. For him, the role of art is to conceive a tangible work which captures the intangible; the unidentifiable mystery present in all things. His sculpture of an owl, for example, is not simply the appearance of the owl, but also its spirit and movement.
Mr. Palmer, who hails from Washington, spent a week at the Asa Wright Nature Centre as the winner of the Don Eckelberry Scholarship Award which is given by the Society of Animal Artists. He is a self-taught artist who has an inherent artistic talent which he perfects by doing. On Friday 15th February, he met with a group of artists who gathered in the Mango Room to learn about his work and to share their work with him.
Interested in seeing more of Matthew Palmer’s art?
In addition to showing us photos and videos of his artwork, he explained the story behind them. And, what a variety. He has made large pieces for Universities and Nature Centres – a model of a skeleton called ‘Dooley’, an elephant made of silhouettes of butterflies, a bald eagle, gallinule, a manatee, fish and several more. To make these models he experiments with different mediums like bronze, epoxy clay, cement, marble, limestone steel and styrofoam. For one of his birds, he even made wispy feathers with a milk carton. We watched a time lapse video of Mr. Palmer building a family of life-size elephants, taking a total of 250 hours.
For this artist, there is no task too big. Not limiting himself to a particular style, Mr. Palmer also draws and paints. That day we were able see a fascinating assortment of the sketches he had been working on during his stay at Asa Wright. There was something that appealed to everyone in this collection. He also showed us the models of a Green Hermit, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, White- necked Jacobin and Purple Honeycreeper that were crafted at Asa Wright. The artists in attendance had an opportunity to display their work. Looking at Mr. Palmer’s art and hearing his description of art, the artist or dilettante would be impressed by his creativity, his industry but most importantly his desire to translate what cannot be seen into a concrete work of art.
Story and photos by J.L. Ryan