Matt Jacobs (currently based in Marfa, Texas) makes effortless, joy filled sculptures with the slight sinister undertones that can only be enduced by the flagrant misuse of household items and their candy coloured, dip covered skins, bonded to each other, modified or poised. We caught up with him off the back of his current internship at the Chinati Foundation – the reappropriated Fort D.A. Russell in Marfa by Donald Judd as a town sized gallery for him and his buddies…
Hi Matt, can you tell us a little about how you came to be a sculptor, did you go to art school?
Yeah, I went to the Kansas City Art Institute where I studied Sculpture and Art History. I’ve been interested in art for most of my life and after trying a bunch of different mediums and making some pretty terrible stuff, I found sculpture to be what I liked the most. I think sculpture opens up new possibilities because it exists in real space and operates on the same planes we do. I’m also very interested in how painting deals with color, line, and form. I’m just not very good at making paintings.
The work I’m making now is based around pleasure and humor. I use a lot of bright colors, childhood objects, candy, and sometimes music. It’s difficult to describe my process exactly, but I know when something is going well because I’ll often burst out laughing in studio. I enjoy what I do, and I try to have the pieces share that sensation with the viewers.
How did the internship at Chinati come about and what is it like to work somewhere with such a rich cultural fixation?
I first learned about Chinati while in school. As far as modern art history goes it’s an important place. Donald Judd was able to do some wonderful things out here, and the Chinati Foundation is a unique museum that is mostly housed on a former military fort. When I saw that they had an internship program I applied so I could get some museum experience and also have a change of scenery. The landscape here in West Texas is unbelievable and Marfa is a quirky little town. From the surprisingly international population, to the late-night retro grilled cheese parlors, and of course the boatloads of art, it’s easy to forget you’re in Texas.
Has working there changed your own practice at all?
A little bit so far. My practice kind of fluctuates based on where I am and how much space I have. It has been really wonderful to spend so much time with the collection here. Interns give most of the tours at Chinati, so I’m in the exhibition spaces just about everyday. I can understand how that might seem a little boring, but I’ve really enjoyed it so far. The pieces here are so tied to their environment that everyday they look a little different.
As far as being influenced, Roni Horn’s Things Which Happen Again, Donald Judd’s 100 untitled works in mill aluminum, and our temporary exhibition of Carl Andre’s sculptures have led me to think about how a particularly crafted object can really charge a space. Horn’s work for example consists of two solid copper elements that are exactly identical. They’re totally pristine, almost alien objects and they’re installed in a former mess hall that’s been around since the 1930s. Every time I’m with this work it makes me appreciate how the careful placement of specifically curated objects can fill a space beyond their material presence.
What’s on the horizon once the internship is over?
I’ll be headed back to Kansas City in May and working there for the summer and fall. Then I’m off to Iceland to do a residency at the Skaftfell Center for Visual Art through the winter. In the long run I’d like to pursue graduate studies, but I’m pretty happy here in Marfa for now. I think it’s a place that’s going to stick with me for a while.