Next Generation: Finalist, Matt Hutton

Next Generation: Finalist, Matt Hutton

Published on Monday, May 18, 2015. This article appears in the June/July 2015 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Mediums Furniture
Author Staff
Matt Hutton with Family

Hutton hoists one of his Crop Circles coffee tables on a family stroll. His wife, Erin, who is also an artist, is his biggest supporter, he says. “Our dialogue has evolved from simple suggestions to entirely designing projects together.” Photo: Michael Wilson

You could say Matt Hutton is in it for the long haul. The woodworker likes process, planning: “I enjoy stepping back and organizing the steps in my head for a large project,” he says. “It’s a long-term, linear way of thinking.” That clarity of vision finds expression in his appealing curvilinear furniture; it is also evident in his career. Since 2002, Hutton has been an associate professor at Maine College of Art; in addition, for the past 10 years, he has run Studio 24b. And with endurance comes rewards. “Just recently, I have felt a confidence in designing that, I believe, comes from many years of making,” Hutton says. “My work feels mature, researched, and refined.” 

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work? 
I enjoy seeing pieces come to completion. No matter how much planning and designing I’ve done, there is a whole new aspect to them when they are complete and people use them. 

What’s frustrating? 
Wood movement. Dull blades. Impatience. 

Tell us about a notable piece. What makes it significant? 
I once made a grouping of headboards for an exhibition, and they all stood freely in the gallery. These pieces crossed boundaries of craft, installation, sculpture, and furniture all at the same time. It was not a dramatic moment, but the attributes that those works possessed still come to mind every time I am designing new projects. 

Who has been your biggest supporter? 
My wife, Erin, who is also an artist. She has an ability to offer honest advice, remain positive, and see the big picture. She’s an excellent problem solver. Our dialogue has evolved from simple suggestions to entirely designing projects together. 

What’s missing, invisible, or underserved in the craft world? 
I think we’re quick to be enamored with technology and the new. As a result, fast, and often bad, work is pushed to the forefront – work that is made just because it can be. I would like to see us maintain a high level of respect for and engagement with the hand and mind in craft. 

How do you define success? 
I look at success in small increments and in various ways. Sometimes it comes from figuring out a difficult technical aspect, other times it’s monitoring larger issues such as keeping my concepts, projects, and practice cohesive. There is always an intuition or reaction that I have when something is working well. I often trust those moments and move forward accordingly. 

Read more Emerging Voices Award profiles.