Beauty from broken things, featured artist Matt Clark

ST. GEORGE – Artist Matt Clark sculpts beauty out of broken and discarded parts, a powerful allegory for his own life’s journey.

Sculpture by Matt Clark, featured artist of the 37th Annual St. George Art Festival, St. George, Utah, March 25, 2016 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News
Sculpture by Matt Clark, featured artist of the 37th Annual St. George Art Festival, St. George, Utah, March 25, 2016 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

Clark was named the featured artist of the 37th Annual St. George Art Festival which began Friday and continues Saturday.

Read more: 37th Annual St. George Art Festival opens to balmy weather, big crowds

Clark, who lives in Diamond Valley, got started on his journey growing up on a farm. He was interested in machinery and worked with “pieces and parts” with his father.

At age 15, he bought his first welding machine and taught himself how to weld. Clark thought he was on his way to becoming a world-champion cowboy and made it to the national finals.

But six months later at age 17, Clark suffered a serious spinal injury that put him in a wheelchair. After eight months in the hospital, his prognosis was not good.

Matt Clark, featured artist of the 37th Annual St. George Art Festival, St. George, Utah, March 25, 2016 | Photo by Austin Peck, St. George News
Matt Clark, featured artist of the 37th Annual St. George Art Festival, St. George, Utah, March 25, 2016 | Photo by Austin Peck, St. George News

“At the end of that stay, the doc says, ‘Well, what you need to do now is check into a rest home and you might live three to five years.’ And I decided right then it’s time to carve my own path.”

Years later, Clark pulled out his old welding machine and began working with metal again, still in a wheelchair.

“One day I  just pulled some scrap out of the scrap pile and made a little dinosaur, and that’s what kind of started the direction of doing the sculpture and the art,” he said. Clark likes to use a lot of found and discarded objects in his sculptures.

“Kind of a base symbolism in it is the discarded broken pieces that’s the symbol of my life’s journey that’s blended into it,” Clark said.

“That’s rewarding to me to have made that journey and then symbolize it with broke parts that were once very useful, now broken, but now they become something different, just like I had to do in life.”

His physical limitations have required him to create his own tools and processes, but his accident also gave him the opportunity to re-create himself.

Sculpture by Matt Clark, featured artist of the 37th Annual St. George Art Festival, St. George, Utah, March 25, 2016 | Photo by Austin Peck, St. George News
Sculpture by Matt Clark, featured artist of the 37th Annual St. George Art Festival, St. George, Utah, March 25, 2016 | Photo by Austin Peck, St. George News

A quote displayed on his sculpture “The Healer,” at the Craig Hospital Healing Garden in Denver, states:

My body has been broken and may not heal, but my spirit can and will transcend my limitations.

“It’s challenging and I enjoy that I can be creative,” Clark said. “I don’t have to fit a mold, so to speak.”

“The most satisfying thing I think is it’s my own gig, my own dance so to speak. I’m self-taught in the art and stuff of it so I can create what I want.”

For more information about Clark, see his website.

The St. George Art Festival continues Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Event details

  • What: St. George Art Festival
  • When: March 25-26, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Where: St. George Town Square, 50 South Main St., St. George
  • For more information see the Art Festival website and Facebook page

Email: japplegate@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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