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Matthew Dehaemers
Artist Statement


Artist Statement



The Galleries

Wood Sculpture

Public Commissions

Sculptural Installations

Components Sculptures

Awarded Grant Projects
Manna Exhibition

Avenue of the Arts 2003

Salina Arts Center    Memory Exhibition 2004

Currents Installation


Questions or Comments:




Matthew Dehaemers

Artist Statement 

            The structures and forms that I have designed have been constructed by people representing not only dwellings but structures that are primary to their identity and existence as individuals and as a community.  My previous work of a year ago is not as separate as it may seem from what I am pursuing currently.  Formal aspects of design, construction, interior/exterior environment, as well as space continue on in my latest structures.  Above all, I have consistently maintained a satisfy sense of scale and simplicity of overall form allowing the viewer the freedom to seek out individual as well as universal meaning in my constructions.

            The work I have done in communities before graduate school till the most recent project involving local high school art students are examples of my passion for using my art ability to communicate and work with people who come from backgrounds differ from mine.  Through the common dialogue of art, I am able to bring individuals together as a group to create a statement about where they came from, where they are now and where they want to go in the future.  I have worked with people (predominately youth)  from different cultural and social backgrounds than myself which impacts my art and the lives of everyone involved.

            I define space by creating physical structures that we have all had experiences with to some degree.  Some of these primary structures include the schoolhouse, the home, the church and the community center.  When a dwelling is peared down to its most simple form all of these institutional spaces offer a sense of shelter and a level of activity.  A hundred or more years ago the schoolhouse for many communities served a multi-dimensional purpose:  school during the days; town meetings and social gatherings at night; and on weekends the space provided a place for church services and recreational opportunities.  The notion of an old schoolhouse can serve the easy function of being nostalgic, but for my work the schoolhouse is a point of departure for discussing the ever changing dynamics of community and how these institutions have evolved into their own within rural and urban settings.  Other images and icons of each of these institutions make an appearance in these spaces such as suspended chairs that not only invoke a sense of play but on a deeper level focus on ones own stability and balance as it relates to issues of home life, education or finding religious faith.

            The act of physically erecting and constructing these primary structures becomes as important if not more important than the final form.  The act of raising barns and houses brought communities together to help out an individual or a family.  The performance allowed a dialogue to open up between all members of the community.  People naturally assumed a variety of roles during the raising.  Individuals for a brief period of time were understood in terms of the task at hand and no longer identified by their usual lot in life.

            I have a strong drive concerning mentorship of youth and I am interested in how these primary structures are a part of the lives of adolescent youth.  With which do they identify the most with? and why?  Teenager years are about finding ones own identity.  In the adolescent struggle to abstract a sense of the Self, association and identification is arrived at through the physical spaces they are the most and least comfortable.

            Scale is one of the most carefully considered formal aspects of my work.  I am determined to accomplish a range of scale.  These primary structures have a scale of “doll house size” proportions to demonstrate how a child imitates life through the intermediary of smaller adult likeness (dolls).  The second scale is a “tree house size” scale in which the older child no longer uses a doll to imitate life but they become the imitators and the role players.  Thirdly a life size scale references our development into adolescents and adulthood where we are no longer the imitators but the true life participants. 


Structure, Shelter, Space
(Refer to Rope Structure)

 My piece entitled Structure, Shelter, Space is built out of 120 lbs. of cotton rope.  The structure is suspended two and a half feet about the gymnasium is to echo a community center structure...the building that this piece is in was built in 1943 and has a large history of having a multi-use purpose...including as a place movies were shown, and sporting events (basketball and a boxing ring). Open bar and social gatherings on weekends would leave the lingering smell of stall beer in the air as the space was used for various religious church services on Sunday mornings.  The debris that was in the room was place inside my piece at one time and placed around the structure at another time....the community center serviced a population of ammunitions workers that were to work at the ammunitions facility built near the end of WW II  which sits directly across the county highway. The town was once named Badgerville.  The structure is approximately 23 feet long 13 feet wide and nearly 18 feet tall....a basketball court is articulated on the inside by the white rope...the entire piece is suspended off of 10 cables fastened to the walls.

Component Installation

 Currently, my choice of materials varies as is seen in my recent work.  Working with components and patterns in my forms using materials such as bread wafers, rope, tubing and solid plywood.  I am interested in continuing further constructions with these materials and other materials.  For this particular opportunity, I would like to expand the complexity that I am discovering in my solid plywood component pieces as illustrated in my works entitled Procession, Revolutions, and Unraveled.  These various constructions range from 500 to 3,500 attached pieces.  Each piece friction fits into the next.  Similar to most of my other constructions, the individual component is very simple in form but when configured with more pieces a beautiful complexity is created.  Because this sculpture consists of individual, non-permanently attached pieces, I am able to disassemble the pieces and reform it into a completely different structure.  These pieces have the potential to create a variety volumetric forms as well as linear forms.  It is only a matter of what gravity and balance will allow. These can be entirely integrated into the environment for which they are intended.  The form can snake up and around objects as well as over or under objects in it’s path.  Since these components have a tremendous versatility and portability a further extension of the installation would be to occasionally disassemble and reconfigure aspects of the installation over time allowing the viewer to have multiple experiences as the installation reconfigures itself.  Every form that I create with these components is a meditative exploration and process that can never be perfectly replicated again.  Each sculpture is created with a certain amount of intuitiveness.  The same intuitiveness that might drive a graffiti artist, or a Navajo sand painter to create temporal two dimensional images, can drive me to create sculptural meditations that are in a sense unique and ephemeral for that moment in time and space.