Learn about Matt Amante, B.A.’04, Art Education, and how his unsure start in community college lead to an art degree from WMU and becoming an instructor and maker focusing on large scale outdoor art exhibits.
I was born in Muskegon Michigan, and later moved to Holland and completed High School there. I wasn’t an impressive or motivated student and really questioned if I was even going to attend college. I decided to test the waters and enroll at Grand Rapids Community College, had a positive experience, and later transferred to WMU. I was at WMU from 2001- December of 2004 when I graduated. While there I absolutely loved my experience while majoring in Art Education, and Minoring in English Education.
Before graduating I accepted a position teaching Art at a High School in South Carolina and I stayed at that job for two and a half years. My time at WMU allowed me to discover my passion for sculpture and I decided to pursue my MFA in Sculpture from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. I finished my MFA in 2010, worked as a curator for a short time, began working as an Adjunct Instructor at a few schools, and eventually got a full-time position at Pitt Community College and have been there for about eight years now. I teach 3D Foundations, Art Appreciation, Art History, Sculpture, and the Capstone to our Associate of Fine Arts Program.
My studio practice has also kept me active as a maker and many of the processes introduced to me at WMU have served me well. A lot of my studio practice focuses on semi-large scale outdoor public art, but I also dedicate a lot of time to material exploration and experimental processes. Public Art has been the major way I have supported myself as a maker though. I have been fortunate enough to have received honorariums for Public Exhibitions more than 60 times primarily throughout the Southeastern United States and have worked in Permanent Public Collections in Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Mississippi. A few other career highlights that my studio practice has brought me are receiving a grant to go to Japan in 2013 from Rotary International, bringing students to China in 2015, and serving as President of Tri-State Sculptors for three years.
Currently I have 10 sculptures out on Honorariums in public places in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Mississippi. I am creating new work and planning the upcoming schedule for what to apply for in 2020.
I feel that my time at WMU woke me up to the potential of this field, helped instill a drive to do well, and sent me on a positive path forward. The foundations I received provided a wide range of experiences, challenged me, and helped me learn to communicate about my work. When discussing school with other artists, I often say that my experience walked a nice line where I had to develop narration and pursue challenging concepts while still focusing on craftsmanship and traditional making processes. I spent a lot of time in what at the time was The Knollwood Building. This was the first place that I ever welded, the first place where I cast metal, and WMU is also the first place where I ever exhibited my artwork. WMU’s public art program on campus was also one of my first tastes of public art and what sparked my interest in the field.
I specifically remember being in class and loving my classes with Karen Bondarchuk and Dan Grohs; former Professor Al Lavergne woke me up to what I love and what has become my career; Jonathan Bush helped me along the way and helped lead me to a teaching assistantship;
Autumn Brown, Metals Instructor, was a peer in grad school, good friend, and we even started a studio in Greenville with another friend called The Dirty L.A.M. (Laura, Autumn, Matt).
View Matt’s artwork at www.mattamante.com.
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