Roger Mathews’ life and his art are similar in some ways. Both feature distinct stages of development and change.


Roger Mathews’ life and his art are similar in some ways. Both feature distinct stages of development and change.

Matthews, a 3-D art instructor at Butler Community College, spoke at the Coutts Museum of Art’s Brown Bag program Tuesday.

He spoke about his life and his art, which are hard to separate from each other. He likes to look at his life as a tapestry.

“It’s designed by a creative God who knew what it should look like,” he said. “It’s purposeful.”

He talked about his life in decades, mentioning that the first two were kind of rough.

The son of teachers, he was homeschooled until he was about 9, then spent some time at a private school, then went to public school.

“Being sheltered, I was kind of an introvert,” he said.

Matthews didn’t have many friends, but does remember one boy in particular who was friendly. This boy was the child of missionaries, and he shared his beliefs with Matthews.

When Matthews was a senior in high school, he was told he had to take either an art class or a music class to graduate. After having an unpleasant experience with music in elementary school, he chose art.

As a senior, he was in the freshman art class, and he couldn’t draw very well.

After establishing this fact with the teacher, he was allowed to work with different types of artistic projects that better suited his talents.

In college, Matthews began taking jewelry making classes. After switching his major to art education, he did his student teaching at Heights High School in Wichita. Upon graduation from Wichita State University, he got a job at Heights.

“I love people and I love art,” he said.  

This was the beginning of the third decade in his life. It was now that he began to think more seriously about what his childhood friend had told him all those years ago, and he decided to start going to church.

He subsequently began teaching a family art class at his church, which is where he met the woman who would become his wife.

She wanted to work with stained glass, something he didn’t know much about. He quickly learned and began doing glass art on his own. He also took a woodworking class and made doors for a while.

After awhile, he stopped working with wood and returned to ceramics and jewelry making.

Around the beginning of his sixth decade, he was on his way to work on a foggy morning.

He woke up in a hospital three months later and had to deal with loss of movement in his hands, impaired vision and head injury after an accident. During this time, he spent time with his six children and learned to lean on those around him.

These days, Matthews enjoys teaching at Butler and creating his own art.

“So that’s my life,” he said. “Thank you for being here.”