GREELY MYATT MOVES fluidly through a wildly diverse number of materials with the grace of a dancer. Over the past 20 years his worked has employed recycled metal, lightbulbs, wood, plaster, steel. You name it, it seems that he has used it. But the beauty of this man’s work is that he takes all of these disparate materials and uses them seamlessly to create sculpture that is elegant and beautiful. His work often employs a dark humor and commentary on the state of the world that is both casual and unmistakable. The work sneaks up on you. Never one to hit you over the head with his agenda, Myatt lets you bring your own experience to bear on his work. He’s a smart and sly fellow. I’m a big fan.
The pieces presented here all have strong ties to the vernacular of Southern life- quilts and hooked rugs be they made out of recycled road signs, wood, old fashioned washboards, or crafted out of broom handles. But Myatt is no “folk artist.” He is rooted firmly in both the traditional and the contemporary. The work is both timely and timeless.
I love how Myatt describes his work. Take a gander:
“As an artist, I want you to care about something as much as I care. To do that I make work that is at the same time familiar, and a bit strange – mysterious and, I hope, poetic. I want the work to be accessible on numerous levels. I attempt that through the selection of materials, treatment of form, use of subject matter and the method of presentation. I remain conscious of how my work rubs up to art across time and how it is informed by that history. The sculptural objects and installations I have produced refer to topics as varied as High Modernism, topical issues, the landscape – both physical and cultural – as well as music, jokes and cartoons. I have consistently attempted to combine art historical references with vernacular influences. As a native of the rural south, I have a tremendous respect for work that is made by the hand and guided by the heart and eye. But I also understand the importance of the mind in this process. To state my approach to the making of art in the simplest and most direct manner, I have used these – the hand, the eye, the heart and the mind.”
Myatt is deeply committed teacher as well as artist and I think it’s significant to add his words on teaching here-
“As a teacher I have tried to instill in my students discipline and responsibility to the community. I hope they make work that is personal, but encourage them to open it to the universal. It is important that they know how they relate to a larger history of art, but at a particular moment in that history.”
And one final image. How glorious these must have looked, surrounding Memphis City Hall!
Myatt’s work is constantly evolving and changing. Please take a look at this lovely interview with him. A thoughtful and funny man. I always look froward to what Greely has up his wooden sleeve.
For more work, click here.