Copper in the Arts

January 2013

Matthew Albright: Nature’s Beauty Swimming in Copper

By Jennifer Hetrick

Magnolia tree sculpture Magnolia tree sculpture.

Photograph courtesy of Matthew Albright

Spending much of his 20s honing the hands-on skills and dexterity necessary for welding, Matthew Albright began to gravitate toward copper, and today is known for his intricate, nature-inspired metal sculptures that speak to his agrarian side.

“I try to take pictures of plants wherever I go,” he admits. Stockpiling inspiration is a resourceful way to keep the assets of the natural world close-at-hand in his home of Euclid, OH.

“In the beauty of recreating plant life, you can take something that’s common and already enjoyed, recapturing and reposturing it so that everybody can appreciate it,” Albright says in describing what he finds so fascinating in emulating ingredients from the outside world and garden-swept environments.

A copper magnolia tree Albright built last year is now a part of the landscape at the Shaker Historical Society in Shaker Heights, OH.

“In time, I’d like to get into building life-size trees,” he adds. His magnolia tree is close in size to a youthful one, standing about eight feet in height at the historical society’s garden.

Albright appreciates coppers innate ability to evolve with time.

Over size coffee bean sculpture Over size coffee bean sculpture welded by Matthew Albright.

Photograph courtesy of Matthew Albright

“I don’t like the breakdown of appearance,” he notes about many metals. “You see street poles, guard rails and fence posts breaking down, and it’s just what time does to them. But with copper, the tenacious oxide protects itself.”

Albright’s artistry is far from accidental in the aspect of how he finds his materials.

He specifically searches for whatever he can that’s used but has some sense of history and connection to the region around him and is working on building relationships with contractors to keep these ideas flowing. With this in mind, he intends to bring a strong foundation of local ties and community integrity into his sustainably built pieces.

In the past, he’s used old electrical wiring from his garage to help him keep recycling well in line with his values as an artist.

With a love of coffee, Albright has shaped over-sized coffee beans in sculpture form. A latest sculpture from the chilly winter months is a cala lily.

Another in the works, as a tribute to mentor David Burns of Copper Gardens in Rough and Ready, CA, is a stalk of bamboo formed from copper.

Inspired by Burns’ approach with the captivating non-native plant, Albright says he wanted to show his appreciation of the unparalleled guidance and encouragement through the completion of this piece and nodes finished in a style somewhat like Burns’ but still his own.

“It’s great to take something you love and to put it into a form that isn’t going to change,” Albright says.

Resources:

Matthew Albright, Euclid, OH, (440) 655-0048

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