As a Cleveland-based sculptor, Meg Matko’s biggest influences were actually performance artists like Marina Abramović and Carolee Schneemann. “When most people think of sculpture, the first thing that comes to mind is clay or marble,” but it doesn’t have to be. In her work she has used fabric, wax, or even something that is created during the performance as the sculpture. “I like the idea of having an object not necessarily be the focus of the piece, but something that I would incorporate into the performance. The sculpture is there as the physical evidence that something happened in that space,” Matko explains. Like her influences, Matko is particularly interested in female identity and how women explore that identity and translate it into art. She also explores spontaneous performance through her work; something created on the spot with only the basic framework arranged prior. She then evaluates herself and works backwards to uncover what caused her to make certain choices during the performance.
Since object-based performance is not particularly a mainstream art form, finding an audience can be challenging. For this, Matko stresses the importance of developing a strong personal brand and keeping people interested and engaged in the work that you do. “It’s about trying to keep the intrigue, keeping it fresh and interesting,” she explains.
Matko’s interest in art began when she was very young. When she started her schooling at Kent State University, she knew that she wanted to go into sculpture, but became increasingly interested in the idea of art as a non-object-based form. After earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture, she worked as a studio assistant for an established Cleveland sculptor, Ginna Brand, as she furthered her own practice. Brand had many ideas for future pieces, but was unable to do the physical labor due to her age. “I was her hands,” says Matko. She encourages artists to consider an assistantship because collaboration with an established artist is a unique learning experience and also very rewarding.
In her future work, Matko would like to explore the concept of ritual in Catholicism. “I was raised Catholic, and there is this emphasis on repetition that can put you in a sort of trance-like state.” The sculptural element of the piece would involve crafting a very long rosary in the traditional way of boiling down rose petals to make the beads.
Since some of her past performances have been fairly controversial, she is not unfamiliar with criticism. “There are always going to be people who are not interested in the work I do, but they can still have a reaction,” says Matko, “It’s about creating an experience for someone.”