Arts and Culture / News

Visiting artist Rupprecht Matthies has a way with words

Visiting artist Rupprecht Matthies worked with DU students during his 5-week stay in Denver.

What word would you use to describe your home? That was the question visiting artist Rupprecht Matthies asked his students at DU. Their answers will be on display starting Nov. 12 in his exhibit titled “¿Being Home?” at the Denver Art Museum (DAM).

Matthies, a German artist, concentrates on words that express life, signify something important or are simply favorite words of his subjects. In this exhibit, the words that students selected were cut out of fabric and sewn onto curtains. They’ll be on display at the DAM through Feb. 12.

Matthies is part of the Hamilton Collaborative Visiting Artist program funded by Frederic and Jane Hamilton. As part of his five-week stay in Denver, Matthies is exhibiting his work at the DAM as well as teaching and holding workshops with students at DU.

Wangui Maina, a senior studio art student, was one of the interns selected to work with Matthies on the exhibit. She says Matthies’ way of making his artwork a community project by having others create the words opened her eyes.

“I never thought about doing art that way,” she says. “It gave me a new perspective.”

This isn’t Matthies’ first time in Denver. The “¿Being Home?” project started in 2009 when he collaborated with different community groups in Denver — including Emily Griffith Opportunity School and the African Community Center — as part of the DAM’s multi-artist “Embrace!” exhibit.

Matthies says he was happy to come back to Denver and that he’s enjoyed talking to young people to find out what is relevant to them. He was delighted by the thought and care the students took in selecting their words.

Matthies’ background as an artist is in painting, but in 1988 he began producing public art works. It seems to be his true calling, he says. He says he didn’t find his “ultimate art” in art school.

Maina isn’t sure if she’s found her ultimate art either. But she is sure that she’s been affected by Matthies and the other visiting artists DU has hosted.

“They influence your work,” she says. “I’m starting to see how community involvement can be good, instead of being isolated.”



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