The career of sculptor Matthew Dutton and the inspirations behind his art installations
One of the most iconic aspects of Chattanooga’s arts scene are the many sculptures and art installations that dot the city. Whether its while you are taking a walk near the Edwin, hanging out at Coin-Op, or showing Rock City to out-of-towners, you are almost always surrounded by unique life-sized art pieces. What few know, is that many of these iconic installations are by one man: Matthew Dutton.
Matthew has always been an artist. As a kid, he would make his own toys by taking them apart and seeing how they worked and then rebuilding them. He developed a fixation with seeing how materials could be experimented with and would test the limits of traditional art through this.
“I’ve really been creating for as long as I can remember,” Matthew said. “I still have the memories of building and taking things apart when I was just a small child.”
He first started selling his artwork while in high school through exhibitions at the Chattanooga Market. Since then though, Matthew has gone international with his projects. Despite now creating art installations for businesses and art displays all over the world, he has made sure to have a huge impact on the local arts scene and still stays heavily involved in it.
Along with attempting to challenge ideas of what art can look like, Matthew finds many inspirations from subjects involving breaking conventions. He says that horror movies, new mindsets, pop-culture parody, and art history all help guide him when he works on projects.
“I always have several projects simmering around the studio, waiting for their opportunity to be attended to.”
As mentioned, Matthew has been a critical player in the sculpture and art installation scene of Chattanooga. One of his most recognizable pieces has to be ‘Maloria: Mother of the Wild’ an outdoor sculpture at Rock City that has quickly become an iconic symbol for the Chattanooga hot spot.
“My mother passed away right as I had started it. The title Maloria is a combination of Lori [Matthew’s mothers name] and Maria [Matthew’s wife’s name]. It’s a solemn piece that acts as a guardian over the gardens.”
Other works in the city that Matthew has created include the Butterfly Installation at the Edwin Hotel, Amelioration Murmuration Installation at Erlanger, the giant melty pizza sculpture at Lupis Pizza, and many others that dot locations around Chattanooga.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Chattanooga, Matthew had several installations planned and projects collaborating with other local businesses. While the pandemic has certainly slowed down aspects of the local arts scene, Matthew has continued to create and move forward during this time.
“I’m looking for more large scale installations to work at, along with bigger galleries and art fairs. You gotta never stop creating.”