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Matt Thomases ’62 is no stranger to Easton. The international affairs and history graduate held a solo exhibition and lecture at the Williams Center for the Arts in 1996. He recently returned again to display two of his sculptures at the “Art to Heart” exhibit that ended its run at the Ahlum Gallery a few weeks ago.

Describing himself as a “self-taught artist,” Thomases recalls having a childhood interest in ceramics and drawing. He had a desire to do something with art, but didn’t begin sculpting until he had completed a master’s in economics from Columbia University and started a career as an investment banker.

“I really believe that artists are born. I think that I was born with a gift and I’m sure that if Lafayette would’ve had the art resources that they have today my life would be different,” he says. “Art was always inside me but I never knew that I wanted to do it. I had a pile of clay on my dresser in the fraternity house, but I didn’t know what I was doing and [my creation] suffered because of it.”

The sculptures that Thomas displayed at the Ahlum Gallery represent his interest in rhythms and shapes that impart rhythm.

Dancer I is a 14-inch-tall, bronze representation of a dancer in motion with shapes similar to legs and negative spaces that give it lightness and motion, he explains. Rachel Waiting is a bronze of comparable size and is based on the wife of Jacob in the Bible. It has a concave womb to signify that no child is there and a negative space between her legs that gives her a sense of upward motion. Unlike Dancer I, which has a high-polish finish, Rachel Waiting has a satin finish and patina over the bronze.

“The depth of reflection through wax, patina, and to the bronze gives life to the bronze, particularly as it’s satin-finished bronze. There is a warmth and life to the piece,” says Thomases. “Bronze is a wonderful metal because of how it responds to patina and coloration and how light reflects off it.”

Denise Sandy, owner of the Ahlum Gallery, says it was coincidence that Thomases’ works were displayed so close to his alma mater. She received 54 submissions for the national juried art exhibit, and the curator, Judith Dolkart of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, selected only 15. Trying to assemble a mix of art from across the country, Sandy says she did not have Thomases’ biography with his slides to know that he attended Lafayette. Always looking for ways to connect with the College, Sandy was surprised to discover that he was an alumnus.

Thomases says that he had a memorable college experience.

“I got a marvelous and diverse education at Lafayette,” he says. “Like all people with good educations, it impacts my life. The closest relationship [between education and my art] is poetry and the enjoyment of poetry in Spanish and English and in the images that come from poetry and literature.

“I’m a great believer in a liberal arts education. Lafayette is a place where I blossomed. I had wonderful teachers.”

A portion of the profits from “Art to Heart,” which included several paintings, drawings, and sculpture with heart-related themes, were donated to the Bethlehem chapter of the American Heart Association.

Thomases says his sculptures include subtle heart connections such as the indirect shape of negative space between the arms in Dancer I, which looks like an upside down heart, and the upper chest of Rachel Waiting, which is exaggerated into the form of a heart.

“I want people to understand that art has multiple meanings,” he says. “I enjoy when people see things in my art that I have never seen. If people will understand that then people viewing art will not be frightened.”

An associate member of the National Sculpture Society, Thomases has had his sculptures displayed in exhibitions across the country. More information about his sculptures and photos of his works are available at his web site.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles