For Matt Wilson, no piece of metal is trash. Every single item can be saved and turned into something new, just as long as one is equipped with the right skills and imagination.
As an upcycling artist, the South Carolina-based creative has plenty of both. Matt, who studied drawing and painting at the Fine Art Center of Greenville, uses discarded objects and scrap metal to create stunning animal sculptures.
Matt began crafting bird sculptures in 2017, but he has grown his portfolio and now builds creatures of all kinds, including insects, cats, and squirrels. Each piece features intricate details that brilliantly capture the forms of these animals.
“I see an object somewhere, goodwill, scrap yard and I take it because it’s cool or because it was a piece that I was looking for,” he said. “A lot of it is putting it in the shop and remembering where it is so that I can use it later on.”
Matt made a praying mantis sculpture with its head, thorax, abdomen, and wings made from silverware. Even its spindly legs are made from upcycled metal utensils. This artist’s attention to detail is impressive.
“It’s a piece I’ve poured a lot of time and detail into,” Matt revealed to My Modern Met. “I dedicated a whole month to this bug and am really proud of the way it came together.”
While Matt has worked on many different animals, sculpturing feathered friends remain his specialty. He’s able to capture the character of woodpeckers, blue jays, owls, and other bird species using metal.
He welds together spoon heads and fork prongs to create plumage and uses curled metal wire for the winged creatures’ talons.
Matt is a fast worker, too. He recently released a collection of 100 birds on his online store, where it sold out almost instantly.
As Matt continues to make metal birds, his style and process have changed over the years.
“I’m working on multiple aspects of the birds at once, which allows for a more cohesive collection,” he said.
As the birds evolved, he wanted their background to evolve as well. So, he enlisted the help of his friend and fellow craftsman, Jacob Kent, to handcraft wooden plaques where his metallic bird sculptures will be mounted.
Matt’s goal as an artist goes beyond aesthetics. His upcycled artwork is also about valuing our environment and resources.
“The upcycled work I create is a testimony to the belief of conserving and appreciating our resources, so that the environment in which we live will continue to be an environment in which we desire to live,” he wrote on his website.
“My goal as an artist is to make artwork unlike art people have seen, while at the same time recognizable in the identity of everyday materials. I only hope the sculptures will inspire others to appreciate the simple, neglected items from which my creations are born.”