Matthew Perry, Waiting (for Trayvon Martin)
Trayvon Benjamin Martin was a 17-year-old African American teenager from Miami Gardens, Florida, who was fatally shot in Sanford, Florida by George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012. He was visiting his dad’s fiancé and was out on a walk wearing a black hoodie and eating Skittles. I have three teenage boys that also wear black hoodies and love Skittles but they are white. This incident got me thinking a lot about my boys, the color of our skin and what that means in our society today. At this time, I was making a series of large-scale sculptures for the Village of North Bennington Train Station of figures waiting for the train. (I still am hopeful that passenger service will return!). I created a piece called Waiting for the Train (Man with briefcase looking at his watch) and Still Waiting for the Train (woman with handbag and her dog on leash). When Trayvon was murdered I wanted to make this piece in his honor. Although somewhat of a departure from the first 2 pieces, Trayvon took his place on the Train platform. I titled it simply Waiting. Maybe waiting for more compassion, understanding, waiting for stronger voices and stronger action all, which is currently happening across the globe and in our own backyard here in Bennington. The tragedy of course is that it takes the lives of Trayvon and so many others to bring upon the change that is so desperately needed.
Waiting for the Train can be seen in North Bennington on the Village train station platform and Still Waiting can be seen also in North Bennington in the Hiland Hall Garden.
Raised in the 1960s, Matthew Perry immediately began thinking creatively and making art in a household filled with art and artists (mother and father). Always building and painting, Matthew went on to get a BFA in Graphic Design which led to illustration & advertising, the latter which eventually wore him out. In 1994, he co-founded the Vermont Arts Exchange (VAE), a non-profit community arts organization with a mission of “bringing the arts to people of all ages, abilities and income”. At VAE, he and his team of artists work with everyone from Head Start children and youth-at-risk to Veterans and elders, struggling with physical, mental and emotional challenges. Matthew took his art making skills and began teaching art not only to heal, but to build community and to show the impact the arts can make in one’s life.
Matthew lives and works in the Village of North Bennington, Vermont. His drawings, paintings and sculptures are inspired by his surroundings whether in Vermont or through his travels in Europe, Brazil and Central America where he also has exhibited in group and solo shows. Matthew’s sculptural pieces and installations evolve around a “sense of place”. Materials may range from rough cement to soft, natural wood. Each site or environment requires a different approach and feeling. Commission work is favored as it builds not only a physical piece in a physical space but creates a relationship and dialogue between people.