Times Bulletin Staff Writer
VAN WERT — When Matt Temple was a child he used to hold crayons in both hands and color with both at the same time. That was confusing to his mother because she couldn’t ascertain which would become his writing hand in the end.
As it turned out, Temple proved to be left-handed; his early struggle in attempting to color with both hands was the beginning of a lifetime of interest and participation in art. As his life advanced through grade school, he spent much of his time drawing comics and the Japanese form of Anime comics in particular.
“I was shy when I was young. By making up people and characters in drawing, it gave me the chance to create my own world and the community that I created to live in,” Temple said.
As Temple advanced into high school, he became an avid and talented drawer, but he wasn’t successful in writing. Still, his art skills gave him acceptance into the Art Institute of Pittsburgh where he received an associates’ degree in computer science and math.
“I blossomed when I got to Pittsburgh,” said Temple. “I wasn’t so shy anymore. There were others there struggling with the same thing and we helped each other come out of our shells.
“It was a real awakening for me. I was discovering myself. I felt like a square peg at square hole. I went into a computer animation program; I wanted to make video games,” said Temple, a Paulding High School graduate.
Following graduation from Pittsburgh, Temple decided to move back to his native Paulding community and seek employment to pay off his student loan. Over the next several years, he worked as a security guard, cable guy, and took apprenticeship at a tattoo shop in order to earn money to help satisfy his debts.
“I finally got tired of that so I went back to Defiance College in order to obtain a bachelor of arts degree in fine arts,” said Temple.
At Defiance College, Temple got a new slant on art, one that was much more historical and practical than technical and scientific. One of the things he enjoyed the most during his Defiance training was the ability to do pottery. There, he totally fell in love with the molecules lining up and things coming together for pottery products.
While he was attending Defiance College, he met Hope Wallace through Steve Smith, who was the head of the art department at the time. Wallace, executive director at Wassenberg Art Center, saw some of Temple’s work and asked him if he would like to teach classes at the center in Van Wert. Eventually, the office manager resigned and Temple was given the nod to become involved with the center on a full-time basis.
These days, Temple’s lifelong dream has come true; he is in the midst of his beloved art, contributing his own artifacts in the pottery area. As office manager, he answers the phone, pays bills, orders supplies, helps with teaching classes, does tours and helps with scheduling.
Most recently, one of the greatest moments of his life occurred when he married Erica (Smalley) inside the art museum.
“I absolutely love what I do here,” said Temple. “I love to get up every morning to come to work here. It’s wonderful when you wake up to something you love to do. This is therapy for me. I use my hands and I work and it makes me feel good. I go into a different zone while I am working; everything else is gone and it is just that zone.
“It’s Christmas every time I open the kiln,” he continued. “When I finish a project, seeing it is opening up a present. I never know how it is going to turn out and how things are going to look. “That alone helps a lot of my artwork. A potter’s mind is a little different than an artist’s,” added Temple. “They relish in their moments.”