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Creative eye

Artisan Hicks’ versatile talents
include photography, woodwork

He was juried into the
Indiana Artisan Project in 2008

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(April 2009) – Many business and home owners in Madison, Ind., know well the dedication and mastery Matt Hicks brings to his construction contracting business. More people are realizing, however, that Hicks’ true talent may lie in his work with fine arts photography and woodworking.

Photos provided

Matt Hicks custom made furniture
is in the Shaker tradition but
with a modern twist to it.

Recently, Hicks, 37, was juried into the exclusive Indiana Artisan Project for his work in large-format photography. The program was formed in 2008 through a collaborative state effort to showcase and market Indiana’s high-quality artisan works. Out of the 450 artisans who applied, only 85 passed the rigorous jurying process.
His work is currently on display at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis in the Indiana Artisan Project’s “Off the Walls” premiere exhibit.
Hicks, who has been involved in construction work since he was 16 years old, fell in love with photography while a student at Indiana University in Bloomington. After one trip to the darkroom, he changed his major and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in photography and sculpture.
In 1998 and 1999, while still a student at Indiana University, he entered the “Photographer’s Forum,” the national “College Photographer of the Year” competition. Although there were more than 28,000 entries each year, he was selected both times as a finalist in the competition.
After college, he took a long hiatus, which included a stint in the U.S. Army, from his artistic endeavors. He started his construction company, The Woodshop LLC., four years ago after working for numerous years with other contractors. Although he does work as a general contractor, he has also become a specialist in historic renovation and remodeling. He was recently asked to sit on Ivy Tech Community College’s Historic Preservation Curriculum Committee. The college is designing a program, which may eventually include a degree track, in historic preservation.

Matt Hicks
Matt Hicks

Just recently, Hicks completed a six-year, extensive, ground-up renovation on his 19th century home. Originally a duplex, he has turned part of the house into a workshop, office and darkroom. He now is ready to let people know about the rest of his talents.
“I want to spend the rest of my days creating,” said Hicks. “I don’t want to quit what I am already doing; instead, I simply want to expand my creative offerings and let people know what else I can do.”
When it comes to photography, he enjoys photographing architecture, landscapes and rural scenes. “I look for scenes that give a feel for the rural countryside or that show the pace of life there,” said Hicks. He is also interested in the spirit and place in nature and is working on using his artistic creativity to convey those concepts.
In addition to his construction work and his fine arts photography, Hicks is also a talented woodworker. He can create just about anything from wood, including elaborate wooden decks, cabinetry and custom furniture. His furniture is modeled after the Shaker style, but with a modern twist.
Hicks can do creative things with concrete and metal, too. His concrete counter-tops are themselves are considered a work of art.
“When a client gives me creative freedom, we can have fun,” he said. “If a person has a unique need, I can design and construct what they want.”
Eric Freeman, who heads the Indiana Artisan Project for the Indiana Tourism Department, said Hicks is a versatile artist, with talent in both woodworking and photography. “He has great goals and equally great talent in both areas,” he said.
It is important for Hicks to let people know he is very “green-conscious and environmentally responsible.” “I try to be very careful when I work to do the right thing because it’s just right,” he said.

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