University: University of Hartford, Hartford, CT, USA
Matthew is an American photographer and book publisher currently living and making work in Marfa Texas. He received his MFA in photography from the University of Hartford. During his time there he completed his first major body of work titled Jasper. The project explores his fascination with running away from the every day by looking at the men that have chosen to live life sequestered from society in the forests of the Ozark Mountains.
Can you introduce yourself? What and where did you study? What's your motto? Thanks for the opportunity! I’m a photographer currently residing in Marfa, Texas. In August I graduated from the MFA photography program at the University of Hartford where I completed Jasper, a book of pictures that explores my fascination with escape by looking at the men that live alone in the forests of the Ozark Mountains.
Give us an overview of your work. What themes do you like to explore? I’ve been traveling around, making pictures for nearly a decade. Travel is an important element of my practice. I’m interested in expressing an interior place by describing the exterior. I enjoy that photography affords me a reason to be alone — to try and understand myself by looking at the world around me.
What encouraged you to submit to the Loupe Magazine and Photograd call for work? Have you got any tips for photographers submitting work for similar opportunities? It seemed like a great opportunity to get the pictures that I feel deeply about into the hands of folks that might find them interesting or moving. Submitting work is always intimidating at first, but it’s a practice in vulnerability. It becomes less frightening the more you put yourself out there and if you work hard for something and you believe in the work, then you owe it to yourself and to everyone else to circulate it… and it’s affirming when the work is well received.
How did this series come to the surface? What's important to you about the Ozark Mountains? A lot of it was by chance. I had abandoned another project in the desert of the American South West and I began making daily visits to a forest near my home (in Austin, Texas at the time). The forest is a disjunct belt of pines that is separated by over 100 miles from the massive Piney Woods region that runs through east Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri. There are a bunch of other small pine islands in east Texas that eventually connect with the Ozarks. I followed those until I found myself in Arkansas.
My relationship with the Ozarks has evolved in so many ways since the project’s inception. I find so much importance there, I’m not even really sure where to begin.
What equipment did you use to make this work? Was it important you made the images in black and white? All of Jasper, with the exception of a couple of pictures, is entirely made with a 4x5 view camera. Black and white was just by chance at first but then evolved into an essential component. It provided a limitation that I very much needed at that time. It also helped set a tone and bring about the world I was creating.
Where did you final visual influence when making Jasper? The poetry of Frank Stanford was probably the greatest influence. I was also watching a good amount of Andrei Tarkovsky and listening to Daniel Lanois — both extraordinarily visual artists.
Who are the people in your images? Folks that, in some form or fashion, have ended up living quiet lives in the forests of the Ozarks.
Describe your relationship to photography and poetry? Is this a typical way of working for you? The poetry that I usually gravitate to is almost always highly visual. I think the poetry that I read and the pictures that I make are definitely in conversation with one another. For instance, when I was making Jasper, I would find that some of my photographs were semi-illustrative of Stanford’s poems.
How did you execute this work? Have you had the opportunity to exhibit it? I had a few photographs in a group show at the Klompching gallery in New York a couple months ago and the first solo show of the work will be in Vancouver this summer.
What are your future plans? Nothing Solid. I moved out to West Texas a few months back and I’ve been making a good amount of pictures since I’ve been here. I’ve recently developed a deep affection for land art. I’ve become sort of fanatical about it, actually. I’m not exactly how that is going to be made visible in pictures, but I am looking forward to it.