Welch, Matthew

views updated

WELCH, Matthew

PERSONAL: Male. Education: Trinity University, B.A., University of Kansas, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES: Office—University of St. Thomas, Art History Department, 2115 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Art historian, lecturer, and author. University of St. Thomas, adjunct professor of art history; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN, curator of Japanese and Korean art.

AWARDS, HONORS: Kyoto University, Japan, Fulbright scholar.

WRITINGS:

Otsu-e: Japanese Folk Paintings from the Harriet andEdson Spencer Collection, Minneapolis Institute for Arts (Minneapolis, MN), 1994.

(With Sharen Chappell) Netsuke: The Japanese Art ofMiniature Carving, Paragon Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 1999.

Body of Clay, Soul of Fire: Richard Bresnahan and the Saint John's Pottery, Afton Historical Society Press (Afton, MN), 2001.

Catalogue, with others, Japanese Quest for a New Vision: The Impact of Visiting Chinese Painers, 1600-1900: Selections from the Hutchinson Collection at the Spencer Museum of Art, edited by Stephen Addiss, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1986; contributor to The Art of Twentieth-Century Zen: Paintings and Calligraphy by Japanese Masters, Shambhala (Boston, MA), 1998.

SIDELIGHTS: Matthew Welch was a Fulbright scholar at Kyoto University during the 1980s. His love of traditional Asian ceramics and a ten-year friendship with preeminent Minnesota wood-firing potter Richard Bresnahan resulted in Welch's biography Body of Clay, Soul of Fire: Richard Bresnahan and the Saint John's Pottery.

Welch traces Bresnahan's career, from its inception as a student at St. John's University—part of the Benedictine monastery in Collegeville, Minnesota—through his apprenticeship in Japan under the innovative thirteenth-generation Karatsu-style potter, Nakazato Takashi—where he achieved the level of Master Potter—to his more than thirty years as artist-in-residence at his alma mater. Upon acceptance of his request to serve the Benedictine community in this capacity, Bresnahan designed and constructed a huge wood-burning kiln, larger and more innovative than any other in North America. Practicing a type of environmentalism that compliments the philosophy of the Benedictine order, the artist uses deadfall only to heat the kiln, digs his own clay, and uses local seeds and hulls as glazing materials.

The five-chapter book includes a foreword by Gerry Williams, illustrations and firing schedules for two multichamber wood-burning kilns, and listings of visiting artists and apprentices. Andrew McQuigg, writing for Library Journal, noted that Welch uses journal notes, interviews, and glorious full-color and black-and-white photographs to trace Bresnahan's "compelling story....His commitment to ecology, local materials, and collective labor and the pottery's contribution to the self-sustainability of the abbey's Benedictine monks have blossomed into a highly regarded and vital community asset."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Ceramics Monthly, February, 2002, review of Body ofClay, Soul of Fire: Richard Bresnahan and the Saint John's Pottery, p. 28.

Choice, April, 2002, A. C. Garzio, review of Body ofClay, Soul of Fire, p. 1409.

Library Journal, March 15, 2002, John Andrew McQuigg, review of Body of Clay, Soul of Fire, p. 77.

Utne Reader, January, 2002, Mark Odegard, review of Body of Clay, Soul of Fire, p. 90.*