Ten Hexagons | Color Photograph from 4" x 5" Color Negative | 2009
Three Flower Pots | Color Photograph from 4" x 5" Color Negative | 2010
Leaning Tree | Color Photograph from 4" x 5" Color Negative | 2011
Artist Statement: Ersatz: [er-zahts]: An artificial substance or article used to replace something natural or genuine; a substitute. Ersatz is a photographic exploration about how architecture influences those who inhabit it. Architecture plays an important role in how people interact, where and whether they interact, and how they feel about the activity that happens within a particular physical space. People recognize when they do not like a space, or if it is lacking something—and shown in this work are attempts to rectify such flaws in design. This collection examines artificial features that are incorporated into publicly accessible spaces (commercial, corporate, and institutional environments) in an attempt to mitigate or lessen the effect of structures that, while functional, are essentially cold, flat, featureless boxes. This collection also seeks to draw the viewer’s attention to the presence of these ersatz elements in modern architectural spaces. All of these images depict elements that are added to an environment in order to simulate comfort within those people who pass through each respective space. Some are of a more physical or sensory kind, such as a place for people to sit, or to have something to look at. However, most ersatz elements relate to the connection of humans to nature. The place to sit and the thing to look at become places to look at nature, or a representation therein.
Nate Mathews studied Photography at Columbia College Chicago, where he received his M.F.A. in Photography in 2008. He teaches photography as an Assistant Professor at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. His work has exhibited throughout the United States, and is included in numerous private collections. Recent exhibitions include two person exhibitions at the Noyes Cultural Art Center in Evanston, ROY G Biv Gallery in Columbus, and Manifold Gallery in Chicago. He has also been a part of group exhibitions at the Midwest Center for Photography, Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography, Minneapolis Photo Center, and Columbia College Chicago. Recent awards include being a Photolucida Critical Mass Finalist and the grand prizewinner of the House of Photography Exhibition at the Westcott House organized by Fotofocus. More of his work can be seen at: natemathews.com.