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Skip Navigation Linksartist gallery > 2019 > matthew hemminghaus

matthew hemminghaus

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Medium: Photography

Booth #: LS17

Artist bio: After receiving my BFA from University of Illinois in '98, I moved to Los Angeles where I made several different bodies of work in painting, while working at art museums and as an art handler. After "doing my time" there I decided to try something completely different and moved to rural Missouri. After several years of raising chickens, I decided to make them my photography subjects. The initial idea was a photographic family tree, which I had planned to install on a wall in my home, but this idea got very complicated once I had more than 6 chickens, so I decided to do the next best thing and just photograph some of the ones that "stand out" from the flock. Each season a few roosters are selected, based on their characteristics, to be the patriarchs of the chicks that are hatched. I can alter things such as tail length, egg color, color of legs, style of comb...etc, based on the roosters I keep. I construct the miniature sets in my studio in which I photograph the few chickens that I feel most represent the traits of my flock at that particular time. The objects I use in my sets are current objects in my life (my latest pair of worn out boots, a gear from my ATV, homegrown produce, native wildflowers) which gives a reference to a particular time in my life or time of year. I construct the set with the camera in place so that I am able to compose the composition exactly how I will see it once the chicken is brought in. Once I have the set lighting done, with spotlights highlighting particular areas, and colored gels to alter the color of the light, I bring the chicken in at night. A tired chicken is much easier to work with, and I can use the dark to my advantage to calm them back down if they begin to get restless on the set. The photo shoots usually last around 5 hours before I finallly get the shot that I want. I print the selected shot using all archival materials and frame them using locally repurposed salvaged lumber.

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