Matthew Kirkpatrick was born and raised on Oahu, Hawai’i where he lived until graduating high school in 2008. He attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona and received dual Bachelor's Degrees in Art Education and Photography. During that time he worked with a local team of photographers under James Q. Martin and the Rios Libres non profit organization in the production of an environmental documentary titled Streams of Consequence. In 2010 He wrote and Arts Based Scope and Sequence for the Family Education Training Center of Hawai’i (FETCH) targeted towards at risk middle school students. During the summers he traveled to Hawai’i to teach and help implement said curriculum during FETCH’s summer sessions. While attending NAU Kirkpatrick’s artwork was displayed in 14 solo and group exhibitions throughout Flagstaff, Sedona, and Cottonwood, Arizona. Directly after graduation Kirkpatrick started his first year teaching at George Washington Carver Magnet High School in 2014.
Kirkpatrick is currently in his third year of teaching. His teaching philosophy is based on the words of Chuck Close, a wildly successful large scale photo realistic painter who works from his wheelchair with brushes strapped to his arms, “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just get to work.” Kirkpatrick believes that artistic instruction must be approached through the lens of critical problem solving. Instead of planning lessons based on product while drawing on inspiration, one must instead look at a piece of art as an abstract problem with unsolved variables. When students are guided to use objective tools and language to define quality within each lesson objective, he or she can start to break down the assignment into manageable pieces.
Once artwork is viewed in this light the learning process focuses on making objective conclusions to help define the parameters of an abstract problem. In the same way one might solve for an undefined variable in an algebraic equation. This approach is extremely important as it helps students correlate fine art production with all other content areas. If a student can be confident in their ability to solve abstract problems they can confidently pursue any area of professional interest or personal enrichment.