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portrait of Matzdorf

Kurt Matzdorf

Matzdorf studied at the University of London for his undergraduate degree. He received his M.F.A. Degree from the University f Iowa. Matzdorf wanted to create beautiful things. He saw examples of metalsmithing in 1952 and began to research silversmithing. He enrolled in a summer course and discovered many possibilities for new and exciting metalwork. He was the first person to graduate from University of Iowa with his major concentration in silversmithing. Matzdorf accepted a teaching position at Kansas State Hollard. There he developed the craft department and sold his metalwork. Matzdorf moved on to take a teaching position at SUNY New Paltz and proceeded to build up the jewelry and metalsmithing program. In 1969 the first B.F.A. Degree in jewelry and metalsmithing was offered and the first M.F.A. Degree was offered in 1971.

Matzdorf's commitment to teaching is very strong and he considers teaching to be an extension of his work. He was most influenced by art teachers and the areas of art history and sculpture. He is mostly self taught in the metals discipline. Matzdorf believes art is a means of communication. It should communicate on a variety of levels; aesthetic, intellectual, animal or gut, and mystical. Sources and influences for his work mainly surround the history of man and religion. Matzdorf sees the value of the metalsmith being to help fellow man celebrate important events, particularly through the production of religious related work. In this manner the metalsmith becomes a part of a life cycle through objects and events like a baby spoon, a cup, confirmation, marriage, and graduation. Matzdorf also believes the artist is a leader -- their eyes are the sensitive and perception organ of society.