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The story of the Nativity has always fascinated Matt Kesler. When he imagined Mary and Joseph making that difficult passage to Bethlehem, he thought about their struggle and their perseverance but also about their immense joy at the birth of the Savior.
“These were real people with real connections to one another, just like us. I wanted to show their trials and great effort but also their faithful determination—I wanted to show their unending hope.”
When I started at Hallmark: I started at Hallmark in the fall of 1988. My wife was expecting our second child, due within a month of my start date. We had decided to move to Kansas City prior to the delivery date—we figured it would be best to keep the bun in the oven and get moved in, rather than moving with a brand new baby. Every day when I came in to work, I would be asked repeatedly throughout the day if my wife had delivered our new baby boy yet. I finally posted a sign hanging above my booth: “No, not yet!” This went on beyond the September 25 due date for an additional two weeks. What a way to start!
Hometown and school: I grew up in Midvale, Utah. I was raised in a very Christian home, a very churchgoing family. I attended Utah State University, which is about 100 miles north of my hometown. USU had an amazing art program, rivaling that of ArtCenter in Los Angeles at that time. I feel fortunate to have had that opportunity and exposure in an out-of-the-way state university.
What’s your collection all about? It is a collection of imagery and art that helps to tell the story of the Nativity from my point of view. I am not trying to rewrite or change the nature of that event but to help fill in what that time and experience might have been like. Above all, my intent with this collection is to help others draw closer to the sacred experience of the birth of Christ. That is the whole meaning behind the celebration of Christmas as far as I am concerned.
Inspiration: This collection was created and inspired by a number of things. First, it is very much about visual storytelling. That is what I have always liked about being an artist. I like to express emotion and feeling through my imagery. Secondly, I have a strong Christian background. I have often felt the portrayal of the Nativity to be lacking in emotion and human connection. I’ve spent many years creating imagery that I felt better represented, for myself, this story. Melding those two passions brought this collection to life in a very rewarding way.
Themes I’m drawn to: Everything!!
Best advice: “You get out of life what you put into it.” and “If you have to do something, you should do it well.”
Happy place (when I’m being creative): Creating 3-D art, whether it is sculpting, carving small or large pieces, or working with metal. I like to explore new mediums. I love to problem-solve a creative challenge.
When I’m not working: Like most, I enjoy spending time with my family. I am also an avid cyclist. When I have free time, I prefer to be out on my bike, working up a sweat and pushing hard, all the time having the time of my life!
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