Matthew Dehaemers
Sculpture - Installation - Public Art

 

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The Nereid Beckons

Will Brown Project
ACT I & II

Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts Project

Leedy Voulkos Installation

Is It Just A Game?

Rockhurst Jesuit Mural

Trifecta of Oakdale Public Art Installation

Significance of the Moment

0 MPG Installation

Two Sides of the Same Tracks Installation

Avenue of the Arts

Look Good, Feel Good Barber Shop Installation

Lewis & Clark Public Art Installation

River Fields

Structural Installations

Components Sculptures

Manna Exhibition

Community Based Grant Project

Wood Sculpture

Early Mural and Sculpture Work for Schools

ACT I

1919 Will Brown Installation
Act I&II

White chalk, White cotton rope, digital projection, black charcoal, audio, tree branch

On September 28 th of 2006 was the 87 th anniversary of the 1919 Omaha Race Riot resulting in the hanging, shooting, dragging and burning of William Brown. Act I was a public piece in which I used hundreds of white chalk pieces to write in a single continuous line an account that was written about the course of events that led to the lynching of Will Brown. What started out as a few dozen high school boys in the early afternoon grew to a mob of 20,000 by night. The text was started in front of what is still today the courthouse where the events took place at exactly 2pm when the young men gathered. My journey took approximately 7 hours to complete moving on my hands and knees nearly a mile in length. I wrapped the text around the court house, eventually winding my way through the downtown streets of Omaha to the location where an infamous picture was taken of Will Brown’s body set a blaze by a crowd of white individuals. My goal was to subtly confront pedestrians with the simple narrative of the event, which I was writing in the exact location of where it happened 87 year ago to the day. It was in some respects a paradox to the Freedom Trail. What we learn about our past allows us to reflect on the present and future. Much like the chalk the public’s memory may fade over time or the message may carry forward.

 

In Act II I started with braiding 243 strands of rope three at a time eventually make its way down to one large single braid. This converging braid is metaphorical of the mob mentality. What started as 200 young high school aged boys grew into a mob of 20,000 people over the course of ten hours on September 28 th, 1919. The collective action of each mob member culminates into the single horrific act of a lynching. Eventually these braids converge down into branches and one solitary body-like trunk. The bottom of the braid frays out like roots into a mound of broken up black charcoal. The charcoal reflects on the fact that often victims of a lynching are not only hanged but also set on fire much like the image of William Brown in the projected image. After being hanged Will Brown was shot hundreds of times full of bullets. Left over chalk that was a part of the courthouse project has been scattered over the black charcoal like bullet shells on the ground. Irony lies in using white cotton rope to create a numerous series of hangman’s nooses, as many slaves worked the cotton fields in the South. The projection is the horrific photo that shows Will Brown’s body on fire as people look on.

ACT II