ink drawing of an elephantMatthew Kiehl comes from Viking heritage. He has the long blond hair, the beard, and the tall frame of a Viking warrior. (Imagine Thor as a fine artist.) He also creates pen and ink drawings of surprising complexity and beauty, inspired by ancient monks, and yes,  Celtic or Viking art.

One can find his art at the Workhouse Center for the Arts, or at his website at

Want to learn more? Here is his artists Statement:

My drawings and sculptures are inspired by Buddhist, Shinto, Egyptian and Mayan art. I am especially influenced by the work of Celtic monks from 1600 years ago who worked long hours at delicate crafts to test and improve their character. Seeing the delicate, intricate precision of illuminated manuscripts, hand-made by monks in 800 A.D., profoundly impacted how I understood myself—they showed me that I was stubborn, arrogant, impatient, and selfish. I’ve also been deeply influenced by the contemporary artist and film-maker Theo Kamecke. Theo Kamecke creates sculptures, functional boxes, and wall pieces out of old circuitry. Theo tries to understand beauty from an almost timeless perspective—he wonders how things will look to someone a thousand or a million years in the future; he doesn’t see circuitry or his work as “futuristic” but as fossils that are already growing old. Without Theo Kamecke’s encouragement I may have gone in a different direction with my work.

I use Pen & Ink and wood engraving because of the immediacy and permanency of the mark. Unlike other artists who work with Pen & Ink, I do not plan out each mark of my intricate drawings (or engravings) – I simply lay ink onto the paper. The most planning I do is a simple geometric outline like a circle or an arch within which to draw, but sometimes I simply begin to draw. There is no way for me to correct mistakes if they happen. If you are wondering “How did he make this drawing without making any mistakes?” this is exactly what I hoped you would feel and my answer is “Patience.”

Most of my work is abstract because I think that character is also abstract; each situation creates an environment in which I can choose to have grace and integrity. With a heart of anger or impatience, it is impossible for me to create work like this. In anger I cannot draw a straight line, without patience I cannot complete my work, and without love I cannot begin my work. So while I create art in order to challenge my own character, my intention is also to make sublime art, and what I mean by this is that I make art that helps others to see themselves in the context of history. I make art that brings people into a state of contemplation over their lives and the purpose of existence. Just as a book is not valuable because of its cover, the treasure I hope to create is not what is on the surface of the art or in any particular image.  The true treasure is what happens in me and you through the contemplation, relationships and character that the work brings about.