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Walter Matia was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1953. He graduated from Williams College in Williamston, Massachusetts in 1975 with degrees in studio art and biology. After college, Matia was given an apprenticeship in the Exhibits Department at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. He left the museum after several years and became head of the land management division for the Nature Conservancy in Washington, D.C. His years at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Nature Conservancy helped Matia tremendously with design and observation skills, both important aspects of his subsequent work.
Matia began casting sculptures in 1980, initially of bird life. However, his work soon developed into an extensive range of animals –from toucans to herds of bounding white tail deer. Matia describes his work as gesture sculptures, choosing to concentrate on unique and subtle qualities that bring out the character of a subject rather than strict anatomical detail. He finds inspiration in people and objects that he sees every day, translating their characters into his sculptures.
Matia’s wildlife has been depicted in many different settings. In 1987, he began a series of larger fountain and garden pieces, one of which was placed in the formal garden of Blair House, the official guest house of the President of the United States. Five years later, Matia later made a complementing set of bronze gates for Blair House. Matia’s work has been exhibited in one-man shows at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art. He has annually participated in the Easton Waterfowl Festival, Society of Animal Artists’ shows, and the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. Matia’s sculptures have also been selected for the prestigious Leigh Yawkey Woodson Birds in Art exhibitions and have toured with that show to several museums in the United States and abroad. Major collections of Matias’s works include Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, WI. His major outdoor commissions can be seen at Loveland, Colorado’s Benson Park Sculpture Gardens, the Botanic Gardens in Wichita, Kansas, and American University in Washington, D.C.