Showcasing the Arts

Artist Award

Amanda Matthews

Fayette County

Amanda Matthews

An eighth-generation Kentuckian, Amanda Matthews is a designer and sculptor of large-scale public art and the space it inhabits. She is also a writer, public speaker and CEO of Prometheus Art, a design and build firm located in Lexington. Fairness, civil rights, community and accessibility are central to Matthews’ work. She serves as president of the Artemis Initiative Board of Directors, chair of the Kentucky Oral History Commission and is a founding member of Monumental Women of Kentucky, a state commission.

A graduate of the University of Louisville, Matthews holds a Bachelor of Arts in studio art and philosophy and studied fine art and architecture in Paris, France in 1989. She has received 23 professional grants and several significant business awards, including the Small Business Development Center’s Pacesetter Award, Business Owner of the Year STRIVE Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners, and the National Association of Women in Construction Bluegrass Diamond Award. She was honored to be a speaker at the 2022 United Nations Foundation Global Leadership Summit, Girl Up Division, on Storytelling and Advocacy in Public Art.
Matthews’ work has garnered national and international media coverage, including features for CBS Saturday Morning and NBC News NOW, alongside pieces in the New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes, and NPR’s All Things Considered. Additionally Smithsonian Magazine has listed “The Girl Puzzle” Monument third of nine “Must-See Sculptural Installations” in the world. Matthews’ work resides in notable collections such as New York City Public Art Collection, Kentucky Capitol Monuments Collection and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport Collection.

Artist statement
My work represents many iterations of the philosophy that we are born from our innate connection with nature and each other. We are ancestor and descendant, amoeba and mammoth, hawk and mouse, forest and wind, chaos and pattern, particle and wave. We are all born from the same stars, sculpted from the same source and contain the same life.

What does receiving the Governor’s Awards in the Arts Artist Award mean to you?

This distinction represents a recognition of my life’s work as meaningful and significant, an honor amplified by the fact that my peers, Kentuckians who also cherish our beloved state, have deemed my work as meritorious. As a sculptor/designer of large-scale, interactive public work, I focus on reclaiming public spaces known for exploitation, venerating silenced and marginalized voices and creating healing spaces of inclusion. My purpose is to speak in visceral terms to a broad audience reflecting hope for a better future. Imbued with the heart and soul of the feminine, my work fiercely pushes back against antiquated norms. As I continuously seek my own community and to help build communities, I hope to continue creating new forms, stories, and icons that act as threads to bind the wounds of historic division. This incredible honor validates these goals as purposeful and needed.

What do you see as your role in promoting Kentucky art and creativity?

My role as an artist is to represent additional facets of Kentucky’s rich cultural history and extensive creativity both locally and globally. In my heart I am a storyteller. Kentucky’s rich biography reveals itself as a representative microcosm of other communities worldwide that seek to evolve and overcome adversity. Much of my sculptural work is born out of inspiration from areas where the spirit is challenged. It elevates those who share this loss and pain: the invisible, voiceless, and marginalized, but also serves as a gavel, striking in a new order for those who worship the status quo or hold steadfast to the mantles of oppression. Therefore, my role, whether working locally or addressing a global audience, is to represent Kentucky in a magnificent and nuanced way. I never intend to scrub my rural upbringing or Kentucky's unique red clay from my message or my soul.

When all the unveiling ceremonies are over with and your work has "settled" into its place, how do you feel when you see it months or perhaps years later?

When I look back at my work months or years later, I feel a sense of appreciation for the people who worked and collaborated with me, and who believed in my vision, talent and advocacy. Time and distance allow me to see things with fresh eyes, so I can better assess if my work aged well and inspired new paths forward. However, after my work has settled into its place, it is the remaining relationships and bonds formed through experiencing the artwork that truly reflect the permanence of my original intent.