“Geisel's Garden”

Lake City Theatre Park
Matthew Leavell, 2017


Matthew J. Leavell is a self-taught artist and sculptor currently producing work in metal and other durable media at his Mobjack, VA studio. Matthew's artistic journey was a winding one, including years spent mastering a variety of trades while engaging in creative pursuits as varied as restoring and living on an old sailboat, single-handedly building his young family's home, or designing and building themed interiors for businesses catering to young children. Matthew brings a certain pragmatism and near fanatical attention to detail gained during those years to his artistic work, believing that an artist honors an artistic concept by rendering it with skill and care. Matthew often works with recycled and salvaged raw materials, seeing the transformation of a rusted, neglected, or discarded piece of steel into a beautiful work of art as an analogy of the redemptive nature of the human experience and the enduring potential for new life to spring from the most desolate of situations. While the weighty themes of redemption, hope, and new life permeate Matthew's work, he attempts to remain mindful of the sufficiency of an created object of beauty devoid of any tie to a deeper theme. He firmly believes that sometimes the best response an artist can give to the question "why" is "because it is beautiful."

Artist Statement: Geisel's Garden is inspired by the artist's interpretation of the artwork, literature, and spirit of Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA Dr. Seuss. As 2016 unfolded and came to a close, I ruminated upon how my work should respond to or address the current state of our nation and our world. I have often responded directly to issues such as division and strife within our society by creating work that is centered around themes of hope or redemption. I do not, however, wish for my art to be a continual visual response or reaction to the world around it. Art can and should transcend situations and circumstances, as it has the power not just to contribute to conversations, but to reframe them. Thus I have endeavored to create a piece of art that is simply a celebration of beauty, creativity, whimsy, and color, as such things are universal, good, and worthy of celebration. Geisel's Garden is a reminder that in spite of whatever condition we as human family find ourselves in, there is beauty surrounding us, within us, and waiting to be created by us. Geisel's Garden is created using salvaged, recycled, and upcycled steel components and is coated with multiple layers of Dupont's legendary Imron line of urethane finishes for the utmost in durability and color retention.

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