I’ve been an artist ever since I can remember,” says sculptor Matt Weir at his Germantown studio, the expansive back room of a dated warehouse. The 29-year-old Louisville native graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1999 and moved on to pursue a bachelor’s in fine arts at University of Louisville. With a drought in interest in sculpture at the university, Weir became only the second graduate with a focus in sculpting. “The department was more or less defunct at the time, but aside from that, most of my education and experience came from classical apprenticeships,” he says.
Weir has worked under the pioneers of the Louisville sculpting scene, including Paul Fields, Barney Bright and Raymond Graf. “There’s not an incredibly large group of us, but the ones who are here form a family tree, and mostly it stems from Barney Bright,” Weir says. Working closely with Fields, Weir learned the basics and a little more — dabbling in woodcarving, stone carving, welding and making molds.
His first major exhibit was his senior thesis, “Reproduction, Stress and the Death Drive: Go With the Flow,” which was displayed at the J.B. Speed Art Museum. The piece involved various concepts of the evolution of the human mind and body, themes that are strong in much of Weir’s work. “My passion is evolution and, specifically, evolutionary psychology,” he says. “Why we think the things we think. Why we behave the way that we behave, and just synthesizing our homosapien, human behaviors with the rest of the species and even materials, like wood and stone. Objects feel stress. You learn that and experience that in the process of working with materials and stretching them to their limits.”
The bulk of his personal projects are striking and abstract. In his studio are two sculptures of the brain, finely carved in Southern Indiana limestone. Weir’s commercial projects run the gamut from benches and backyard lawn figures to his latest and most significant project, a mammoth 11-foot-long, 6-foot-high sculpture of a tiger for his alma mater, St. X.
The school offered him the freedom to portray the animal with a realistic, contemporary theme. “The tiger looks aggressive and kind of defensive, which is actually pretty true to life when you consider that the tiger is on its way to being extinct,” he says.
After he wrangles the beast, it’s back to work on another personal project — “Check Out My New Spear,” a conceptual piece that involves sculptures of Weir and two other individuals. It is meant to portray the competition of evolutionary psychology. —Aaron Frank
Jen Pellerin & Samantha Griffith
Thaniel Ion Lee