Monday, March 19, 2012

Matthew Dehaemers wins public art commission for Casper project

From a Nicolaysen Art Museum press release:

After a five-month selection process that involved 86 artists from around the state, region, nation, and the globe, Matthew Dehaemers from Kansas City, Kansas, was awarded the commission for the public art project on the southwest corner of Beech and Collins St. in Casper. The public art panel, comprised of representatives from all collaborators on the project, as well as public art administrators, artists, and community residents felt that Dehaemers synthesized many aspects of life in Casper and in the region, while also creating an educational project that refers back abstractly to the landscape that surrounds us and the elements that sustain our lives.

In early 2011, a unique opportunity arose to integrate public art into a new development for affordable housing located on the eastern edge of the Casper business district and directly across the street from the Nicolaysen Art Museum. Discussions centered on creating a public art project that could be incorporated into existing open green space, and serve as a gathering place for the residents of the housing complex, the surrounding community, and businesses. The new development, the Sunshine Apartments, will utilize green design as one of many initiatives for a ground-breaking direction in affordable housing the state of Wyoming. This project was awarded funding by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of their Our Town initiative. Our Town is the NEA’s new leadership initiative focused on creative “placemaking” projects where partners from both public and private sectors come together to strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities.

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.

Dehamer’s sundial project is entitled “Confluence of Time and Place.” His vision was inspired by “the historical periods of this region.”

Artist Statement:

All along the way life has left its mark on the rugged rocky terrain of the area in the form of bones, fossils, word and image carvings of indigenous people and pioneers. Today we mark the land by utilizing its’ rich natural resources to fuel the community including new alternative sources such as solar and wind energy. Today is just one small point on a continuum of millions of years of existence. As human beings we are use to placing time into a smaller context of years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds. When we talk about the geology of the earth we are talking about a macrocosm of 4.6 billion years. It is almost unfathomable to comprehend the true reality of that span of time. This public art installation is a way to symbolically connect these two streams of time. This structure is designed to broadcast with its shadow the time of day specifically for the exact latitude and longitude of Casper. At the same time, various graphically rendered spots surrounding the installation reveal the totality of our earth’s geological history and the existence of life since the beginning of our planet.

This project would not have been possible without the collaboration of the WCDA, the Nicolaysen Art Museum, Grimshaw Investments, LLC, and the City of Casper. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works.

For interview information and photographic opportunities, please call the museum at 307.235.5247.

For high-resolution images to accompany stories about this project, visit

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