This morning Matt’s piece Adaptation was dedicated with the new Johnson County Public Works building. It is second Johnson County 1% for Public Art project.
For Matt Dehaemers sculpture, public art, and installation are the perfect outlets for creativity, communication and collaboration. As a student, he remembers always creating art. From t-shirt design to murals, artwork allowed him to express himself and connect with people; an idea that motivated him to spend some time teaching on a Navajo reservation after graduation. The experience greatly influenced and continues to influence his work in public art. “People are my palette,” said Matt. “[when beginning a new project] I start my research with people.”
This same idea of community-mindedness and collaboration inspired Project Reclamation a public art project and art auction that honors the survivors of the Joplin tornado and supports Joplin artists who lost their homes and studios. Matt documented home owners’ stories of survival and collected debris which was then incorporated into over 100 new works of art by 98 Kansas City artists. All of the artworks were auctioned to raise funds for a new grant program supporting Joplin artists.
What drives Matt isn’t just the interpersonal relationships he develops when creating a work of art but also the process of creating art. “Success for me is finding collaborators with a shared vision to create what I want to create.” Ever the eternal student Matt thrives on the information exchange that takes place when researching a new project and the materials and methods to construct it. While designing Adaptation, Matt worked with a number of individuals including structural engineers and welders to create the piece often using their skills in unexpected ways and ultimately cultivating a sense of pride and ownership of the piece. “I love connecting with people. When I look at [different] projects I think of the relationships that developed out of those projects. It’s like looking at a photo album. I can share stories of the people who helped create the work.”
On May 30th, Adaptation, Johnson County’s second 1% for Public Art piece, will be dedicated with the new Johnson County Public Works building. Named for the Public Works employees and equipment’s ability to adapt to whatever task needs to be done in any environment, Adaptation honors their tireless daily work. Designed to resemble a large piece of County equipment, the structure also mimics a hand. As the sun comes up in the morning the hydraulics begin to open the piece, by mid-day it’s completely open and at night it rests or “sleeps.”
In addition to Adaptation, Matt has also recently completed an installation for the Bank of America headquarters in North Carolina and received a public art commission for the City of Casper, WY. Some of his work in Kansas City includes Catalyst, commissioned by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (2010); The Jesuits: Past, Present & Future, commissioned by Rockhurst Preparatory School (2007); and Point of Departure, commissioned by 360 Architecture and the Kansas City Municipal Art Commission for the 2003 Avenue of the Arts.
To find out more about Matt’s artwork you can visit his website: http://www.matthewdehaemers.com/
Matthew Dehaemers received his BFA from Creighton University and an MFA from the University of Wisconsin. His national public art commissions include the recent work Catalyst for the Kansas City Area Transit Authority, Seven Sentinels at the Vehicle Impound Facility in Kansas City and Convergence commissioned by the Los Angeles County as well as Detour commissioned by the Missouri Department of Transportation. Currently he is working on a large scale kinetic public art piece for the Johnson County Public Works facility. Dehaemers has also continued to produce unique issue focused installations for various art center such as Project Reclamation for the Leedy-Voulkos Arts Center, Watered Down for the Creighton University Lied Center and (402)Disconnect/Reconnect for the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art among others. He has been awarded the Kansas Arts Commission Fellowship Award, the Joan Mitchell Fellowship, four Public Art Network Recognitions, an NAACP Community Contribution Award as well as numerous residencies.