Matt Bua's recent work takes form in large–scale elements in architecture that are both functional and fantastical. These spaces are created out of found objects and other sustainable resources. Bua’s present project is the construction of small–scale examples of vernacular, experimental, and visionary architecture on a piece of land in Catskill NY. Each structure focuses on specific themes and usages that are integrated into the surrounding community. The land obtained for this project contains the peak of Vedder Mountain, which is named after Jessie Van Vechten Vedder, New York State’s first female historian, and author of the History of Greene County. A Vedder Mountain Summit house is in the works.
|Matt Bua, "The Henry Hudson Mutiny Memorial Drive–thru Kiosk"|
DC: What you do?
MB: Construct small outdoor structures (under 12×12 ft) that are designed for the public’s use. Small Museums, Sheds, Roadside attractions.
DC: Was there a childhood experience that you believe influenced you later or led you in a particular direction regarding craft or making?
MB: The first time it rained while I sat inside my Dresser fort, I remained dry. I knew it was a good thing.
DC: What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome to gain proficiency with a material or set of skills? Did you have a ‘breakthrough’ moment?
MB: The constant act of building has been the jumping of many obstacles along the way. When I switched from temporary installations to Permanent out-door structures and a friend said,
“Matt , you know you can’t use dry wall screws for exterior building”
I didn’t, and I haven’t since.
DC: Do you have any superstitions connected with making?
MB: I get lots of warnings as I build that tell me to slow down…
I try hard to listen to every one of them.
DC: What comes first when you are making – formal constraints, functional parameters, a gesture, etc.?
MB: Simple gestures, one-liner jokes and concepts come first.
Other wise it’s a specific site or material that just says “USE ME”
DC: What attracts you to a certain handmade thing?
MB: That it’s possible, when you disregard the rigid rules and regulations written by the overlords of building.
DC: Do you have a favorite thing?
MB: As we were digging into the side of the hill for the sauna foundation, we uncovered this big rock (around 4x4x5ft) which became the base for the woodstove. Up close it looks like a prehistoric platypus type creature’s skull.
DC: Do you have a favorite tool? Why?
MB: Rope, the trees seem to like it best, very versatile too.
DC: What is the favorite thing you’ve ever made? Why?
MB: Each new structure
“the reward of the thing well done is to have done it” Ralph Waldo Emerson
DC: When making something where is your concentration- on the present activity or on its desired result, or something else altogether?
MB: It’s nice if it’s all three… open to the possibilities, reacting to the situations and keeping your eye on the prize….hold on
DC: Is there any material, tool or technique that really intrigues you that you’ve never gotten around to learning? What’s interesting to you about this?
MB: Those drawings in the “How to Install a Well” with the two folks holding on to the well drilling tool that you rent. It looks easy, but in Upstate NY’s rocky ground, I doubt it. So I just dig. I’m interested in knowing the source of my drinking water.
DC: Where do you find inspiration? How does this come out in the work?
MB: It’s obvious to me when builders love to build with the materials they choose, All that funk-i-tecture slaps the square houses in the face in a fun loving way. Free building can be free if you keep your eyes peeled for the piles on the side of the road that says “free”
DC: Where do you see yourself in relation to the current trends towards sustainability, DIY, craft, etc.? How has your relationship to these things changed over time?
MB: They’ve always been there for me, but as things move forward they come into focus. It’s a natural common sense progression. You can either lug a bunch of concrete down a hill or stack some stones up and dig up some clay on the site
DC: Where do you place yourself in relation to a craft tradition or heritage? Could you talk a bit about your primary influences related to craft?
MB: I’ve never thought about this, but sometimes I’ll do something and stand back and say “that’s crafty”
I do appreciate it when the old neighbor sticks his head over the fence and says “ ya know, If I were you I’d really think about….”
DC: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in craft/making?
MB: Do what you love and then there is no questions whether it’s worth it.
To view more of Matt’s work in uptsate New York, please click here or here.