Driven Snow #8516, 22"h x 17"w, Archival Pigment Print, 2011
Name: Andy Mattern
City/State: Minneapolis, MN
MNartist.org profile: http://www.mnartists.org/Andy_Mattern
Andy Mattern is an artist who makes photographs of ordinary objects and landscapes to investigate the relationship between people and the built environment. Using place as inspiration, his projects often take the form of typological series that focus on sites of human experience such as consumer products, domestic interiors, and artifacts in the urban landscape. He earned a BFA with an emphasis in photography from the University of New Mexico in 2002 and currently teaches photography while he pursues an MFA from the University of Minnesota.
Driven Snow #8489, 22"h x 17"w, Archival Pigment Print, 2011
Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
In addition to my MFA thesis, I am working on a project for Community Supported Art (CSA) where I am making photograms of partially melted snow formations I collect from the street. This is different for me mainly because I am working in the darkroom, which I haven't done in over ten years. The images are fairly abstract and appear to be both macroscopic and microscopic. I am especially drawn to the ways in which these simple images call up ideas about nature’s fundamental building blocks and issues of scale.
Related to the CSA work, my thesis project is called Driven Snow and it investigates the materiality of urban winter with photographic experiments using the dirty ice and snow that grows in the wheel wells of cars. These formations are removed from their original context, photographed alone on a white background, and printed at a one-to-one scale for accuracy. As I photographed the forms, they would melt into large darkroom trays that I positioned below to catch the debris. During this process, I became interested in the visual connection between the original form and its trace, so I photographed the residue it left in the tray. The result teeters between realism and abstraction, calling up ideas inherent in photography about representation, truth, and perception. Despite the fact that these objects are shown with the utmost precision and objectivity, they begin to slip into the unknowable.
Melt #8598, 44"h x 36"w, Archival Pigment Print, 2011
"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?
I am interested in issues of representation and how images both record and interpret reality. In the history of photography, there has always been an effort to document the world, to somehow preserve it or understand it more completely. Ultimately, though, a photographs is just a fragment of time and space, it does not tell the whole story. I am trying to push this idea by nudging the photograph as close as possible to the subject it depicts.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
I was lucky to visit the studio of renowned artist Janine Antoni last summer. She said to trust your instincts as an artist, make what you want to make, and then reflect on what you did.
Basically, she was giving permission to work intuitively, while still recognizing the importance of being critically aware in one's work.
Melt #8732, 44"h x 36"w, Archival Pigment Print, 2011
Tell me about your work space and your creative process.
My process involves exploring my immediate surroundings, gathering visual information, and organizing the result into collections. I am inspired by the German tradition of typology, were photographers cataloged groups of similar subjects. When I am photographing, I try to remain open to what I encounter, and it is always interesting to review the images later and find themes and connections. I will sometimes spend a year photographing without realizing that I have been amassing a particular collection or story. Having the patience and attention to reflect on these more intuitive processes is an important part of how I make work. Even when I set out with a very specific subject or goal in mind the result can be a surprise.
Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?
There are so many, it's almost not fair to name only a few! I have a links page on my website where I list fellow artists and arts groups whom I know personally: http://www.andymattern.com/friends
If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
Right now, I'd take you to the Minneapolis Institute of Art to see The Sports Show, which is an amazing collection of diverse imagery and other art work. You don't have to be a sports fan to get into this show, there really is something for everyone. Midway Contemporary Art is another favorite spot. They currently have a great photography show of a German artist, Jochen Lempert. More off the beaten path would be AOT's space Dressing Room, check the website to see what they've got coming up.
Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?
Untitled, 10"h x 8"w, Silver Gelatin Print, 2012
Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
I am one of the nine artists involved in CSA / Community Supported Art, where people can buy "shares" of locally produced art, like to be distributed throughout the year. There are only a few shares left for purchase, but you can do so here. http://www.springboardforthearts.org/csart
I recently had a couple of exhibits, too.
PRØVE Gallery, Duluth, MN
21 North Lake Avenue, Duluth, MN 55802
March 9th through March 23rd.
Artists: Joey Fleming & Colin Weaver, Christopher Hagen, Andrew Hetrick, Jenny Lennick, Andrew Lindberg, Ginny Maki, Andy Mattern, Joshua Mercil
"Mountains Were Oceans" MFA Thesis Exhibition
Katherine E. Nash Gallery
405 21st Ave. S Minneapolis, MN
Opening reception: Friday, March 30th, 5-8pm
ON VIEW: March 27-April 14, 2012 Tues – Sat, 11am – 7pm
Artists: Maneli Aygani, Erin Hael, Erin Hernsberger, Korla Luckeroth, Andy Mattern, Josh Ostraff, Ginny Sims