In Focus: Brainerd Pottery Artist Shares His Inspiration
After dealing with PTSD, one Brainerd Lakes artist is using his pottery skills as therapy.
“This is called horsehair pottery, and it’s from the Acoma Indians,” Kevin Matthews said.
Matthews is showing off some of the work he is most well-known for around the state of Minnesota…and it all starts off with just a lump of clay.
“I push the clay down, I push the clay up, push the clay down…” Matthews said.
There’s also an old tale behind the horsehair pottery.
“A gal was unloading a kin, and her long hair fell in the kiln while she was unloading it and her hair made the carving marks on it,” Matthews said.
With Native American roots himself, Matthews is honored to continue the tradition.
“There is actually not horsehair in the clay, so what I do is make the vessel, take it out of the kiln when it is over 1000 degrees and lay horsehair on it, and the hair singes and the carbon in the hair leaves the black lines,” Matthews said. “This pot has to be designed in less than 10 seconds; otherwise, it cools so fast that the hair won’t melt anymore.”
His inspiration for art started after dealing with trauma situations in his personal life and his career as a firefighter.
“It relaxed me and I was working through a lot of things that I needed to work through, “ Matthews said.
Matthews went back to college at Bemidji State and started to gravitate toward the art classes.
“I found myself in the studio a lot and it was relaxing me,” Matthews said.
After leaving life in the Twin Cities and moving up north, he says the nature allows him to stay calm and focus on his art.
“Brainerd has really embraced art, which is neat, and it has really been beneficial to be here and be exposed like that,” Matthews said.
Located right on Washington Street in Brainerd, Matthews is proud to share his art with the community.
“On the outside I’m doing the pushing, and on the inside, I’m just guiding the clay up,” Matthews said.
And he tries to make each piece just as unique as the last.