Matt Tommey - Contemporary Basketry & Handcrafted Baskets
About the Artist...
Matt Tommey is a world class sculptural basketry artist working in Asheville, North Carolina's River Arts District. His interest in fine craft and handmade baskets began as a teenager, growing up in southern Georgia. His passion for using natural materials began to center around creeping southern vine, kudzu while in school in the North Georgia mountains at Young Harris College and the University of Georgia. Now an Asheville, North Carolina resident, Matt's handcrafted baskets are a whimsical collaboration of traditional techniques and wild, rustic, natural materials including natural vines (kudzu, honeysuckle, bittersweet, wisteria, grapevine) and bark (poplar, hickory, mimosa and others). His most recent work focuses on sculptural basket art vessels using a combination of bark and vines, metal and encaustic wax.
As a professional craft artist, Matt is a leader in the contemporary basketry movement, serving on the Board of Directors of the National Basketry Organization (2011-2014), the River Arts District (2013) and as an instructor at schools, guilds and conventions around the country including Arrowmont, the John C. Campbell Folk School and the North Carolina Basketmakers Association Convention. He is also the founder of an international arts organization, The Worship Studio, committed to helping artists make the connection between creativity and spirituality.
Recent Articles about Matt:
From the Artist...
It has been said that all creativity happens at the edge of chaos and order… For me the chaos just happens to look like tangled, gnarly vines wrapped tightly around strangled trees and laurel, pods and cones littering the forest floor; the order like a beautiful sculptural basket that reminds me of its source. Somewhere in the middle is where the magic happens, where Creativity broods over the chaos and new life begins; beauty is born. A simple walk through forest explodes into a symphony of possibilities; back breaking in giddy glee as I carry the treasures toward their purpose. What once was dead is now alive, that which was hated is now desired, that which had no breath suddenly heaves with hope afresh. The weaving is the easy part; it's seeing beauty while it's still hidden that is the adventure. Even though these woven creations seem to simply form in the hands of their maker, as if to say it is only skill that brings them to life, it must always be remembered that every basket begins with a walk in the woods. It's time to take a walk.
My handcrafted baskets are a whimsical collaboration of traditional weaving techniques, vines, bark and recycled metal. Since the early 1990’s, my interpretation has offered a heartfelt nod to my roots in Appalachian basketry while offering a contemporary expression that is all my own. My most recent work focuses on the use of a wide variety of southeastern invasive species, encaustic wax and recycled metal in the creation of sculptural art vessels. For me, every basket begins with a walk in the woods. I pay close attention to the materials I choose while harvesting to ensure the most unique design features and highest quality. My artistic voice centers around a quest to truly speak the language of natural materials in a fluid manner. By responding to nature and incorporating many different barks, vines, and branches, I am able to create one-of-a-kind sculptural creations that merge my contemporary style and love for movement with the simple beauty of nature.
I Am A Maker
I was made to be a maker
With busy hands and thoughts and dreams.
I see the things that no one else sees
And wonder why not me.
I begin in places not understood
Just to end in places of unexpected joy.
I dream of beauty yet manifested
And wake to craft the wind.
I hear the sounds of life blowing through ideas
As I quiet my soul and quicken my hands
To make, create and release the dreams
Of the One who dreams with me.
I am a Maker.
Copyright 2014. Matt Tommey
Juried Member, Southern Highland Craft Guild
Juried Member, Piedmont Craftsmen (2012-2014)
Member & Board Member (2011-2014), National Basketry Organization
Member, North Carolina Basketmakers Association (2011-2014)
Member, American Craft Council
Member & Board Member (2013), River Arts District Asheville, NC
Member & Instructor, Handmade in America
Awards & Recognitions
2011 Festival Commissioners Award, International Willow Festival, Nowy Tomysl, Poland
2010 American Artists Under 40 Registry, Smithsonian American Art Museums Renwick Gallery
2012 1st Prize, Natural Materials Basketry, North Carolina Basketmakers Convention
2013 Award of Excellence, Piedmont Craftsmen 50th Anniversary Fair
2014 Finalist in Craft Category, Martha Stewart Made in America Contest
2014 Finalist in Basketry, Niche Awards
2015 Featured Artist, Cashiers Designer Show House
2015 & 2016 Featured Artist, Grove Park Inn
2016 Featured Artist, Grovewood Gallery
2016 Best of WNC Winner - Craft Category
2016 Selected Artist, Excellence in Fibers 2016 Juried Competition- Fiber Arts Magazine
2017 "New Varieties in Basketry" - Snyderman-Works Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
2011 The Laurel of Asheville Magazine
2011 National Basketry Organization Quarterly Review
2013 Featured Artist, ArtsyShark.com
2013 Garden & Gun Magazine
2013, Featured Artist, FibertArtNow Magazine
2014 Featured Author, Arts Business Institute
2014 Featured Artist, Our State Magazine
2014 Featured Artist, Carolina Home & Garden Magazine
2014 Featured Artist, The Textile Blog
2015 Featured Artist, WNC Magazine
2016 Article, The Laurel of Asheville
2016 Featured Artist, SEVEN Magazine of The Cliffs
2016 Featured Cover Artist, Asheville Citizen-Times
2016 Best of WNC Artists Winner, Mountain Express
2017 Featured Artist, Garden & Gun Magazine Blog
2012 - 2015 John C. Campbell Folk School
2013 – 2015 Arrowmont School of Art and Craft
2012 Textile Art Center, Brooklyn, NY
2016 Fibre Arts Australia and Timeless Textiles
Various basketry guilds and conferences around the United States
2011 Unlocking the Heart of the Artist
2013 Crafting Your Brand
2014 Creativity According to the Kingdom
Check out this recent video from Beverly-Hanks Real Estate in Asheville, one of Western North Carolina's premier luxury mountain home firms. Matt was featured in this video on his work with Handmade in America.