Matt Tommey: Crafting a Creative Life

Matt Tommey is a basketry artist, a musician, author and worship leader. His interest in fine craft and handmade baskets began as a teenager, growing up in southern Georgia. His passion for using natural materials began to center around the creeping southern vine of kudzu while attending Young Harris College in the North Georgia mountains and the University of Georgia.

“A few years ago, my wife and I made a decision to say ‘NO’ to everything that was not creative at its core. That meant turning down jobs and moving from Atlanta to Asheville. It meant crafting a life that sustains what we are called to do, as opposed to running after the frustrations of the day. I’ve crafted my life in a way that makes it easy to be creative — that meant saying ‘no’ to stuff that sucks my time.” ~Matt Tommey

Listen to Matt’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Now an Asheville, North Carolina resident, Matt’s handcrafted baskets are a whimsical collaboration of traditional Appalachian forms and wild, rustic, natural materials including natural vines (kudzu, wisteria, grapevine), branches (birch, oak, ash & poplar), long leaf pine needles and poplar bark. His interpretation of rib baskets and other traditional shapes offer a heartfelt nod to his roots in Appalachian basketry while offering a contemporary expression that is all his own.

Matt says, “Coming from a family of musicians and being a musician, I grew up with this idea of performing for God. As I’ve grown in my spirituality and relationship with God, the Lord began to draw me back into the woods. With my basketry, my relationship with God began to change from a position of performance to just being. Connecting with the solitude of the woods helped me to find a place of rest with my creativity. It’s in this place that I know that I’m loved and accepted beyond anything I would ever create. I know that I’m created in the image of God and my job is not to perform for Him, but to create with Him.”

Matt is a leader in the contemporary basketry movement, serving on the Board of Directors of the National Basketry Organization and as an instructor at schools, guilds and conventions around the country.

Through The Worship Studio and his book, Unlocking the Heart of the Artist, Matt encourages others to embrace their creativity. He says, “You are creative. The things that make you weird and unique are the very things that God put inside of you to express His glory on the earth — and for you to have a really good time in life. The abundant life comes when we connect to creativity and the greater spirit of God with our unique expression of creativity.”

Find out more about Matt at www.matttommey.com.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

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