Q & A with Matthew McEver

Interview by Steffi Cummings


As an artist that is inspired by the complexity in nature, Matthew McEver photographs the details that we may not see or may overlook in passing. As well as being an emerging artist, he is currently working towards his B.F.A. at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX. His current works are based in photography and sculpture. Along with being featured in The Function of Attention at Art League Houston, a three person exhibition curated by Emily Peacock in conjunction with FotoFest 2014 Biennial that playfully explores the creative purpose of boredom as a form of attention, Matt has also exhibited throughout Oregon and other parts of Texas.

Matt McEver, 2013

Matt McEver, 2013

Q. The reoccurring image in your photographs features anthills; can you talk a little about this?

A. We all see anthills like these almost everyday. We step over and around them without hardly a thought. One day standing outside I looked down and was captivated by one of these tiny structures and the way it fit into is landscape. From then on, my eye has always been drawn to them. It was only a natural progression that I should begin to photograph them.

Q. How do anthills relate to the theme of boredom?

A. Honestly it was not the anthills themselves that related to boredom. It was in the  act of obsessively documenting this tiny world that I found a connection to the idea of fighting the yawns. I was doing that by observing details.

The project inspiration came in a moment of boredom. Just standing around, passing the time. I looked down to see an ant hill, my mind suddenly had a detail to focus on and my camera hand had something to do. Now seeing them, photographing them, helps me remember that appreciating the details can bring a lot of satisfaction.

Q. What is the inspiration behind the work?

A. The awe of nature has often inspired me and it did so again that day when I looked down and saw this tiny red anthill in the middle of the concrete sidewalk. No dirt around, but they had found one of the few holes in the concrete and dug into it. It caught my attention and made me appreciate our little neighbors. Even in our concrete jungles these ants march along doing what they have been doing for millions of years. Build, build, build. I see them everywhere now and I love capturing the interaction between their tiny world and ours.

Q. I really enjoyed the contrast of color between the background of the photographs and the anthills formations; can you talk a little bit about your selection process?

A. I had my choice of an endless supply of ant hills. These things are everywhere. They come and they go. There are always new ones to be found, even in the old spots. The first thing that always drew me to a particular hill was how it stood out from environment in which it sat. Some I saw because of colors, others I saw because of the contrast in the natural form of the anthills popping up in the more inorganic manscapes of concrete.

Photo by Hayley McSwain

Photo by Hayley McSwain

Q. In addition to the anthills, are there any other formations that you have photographed?

A. I have always had a part of me that loves to shoot landscapes, and I have often been drawn to the details of nature and the forms that can be found there. But to focus intensely on a sole formation like the anthill is something I have never done before.

Q. What is it about nature that brings you the most inspiration?

A. Nature always makes me aware of how big our universe is and how small we are in it. This inspires a sense of awe and a desire to question, explore, interact, and create.

Q. Do you always incorporate the outdoors in your art work?

A. It is an important theme in a lot of my work and it is a rare occasion that I do not draw some inspiration for a piece from some natural wonder. But no, not always.

Photo by Hayley McSwain

Photo by Hayley McSwain

Q. How has living in Huntsville, TX influenced the subject matter of you photographs?

A. Living in the city of Huntsville, far removed from my previous country setting and my usual subject matter, has allowed me to focus on new details in a new environment. And maybe, like the anthills, the same detail in a new environment.

Q. What other subjects are you interested in photographing

A. I use my camera to capture moments that inspire some emotion in me. Sometimes its a question, sometimes it is simply the joy of a combination of lines that I find visually appealing. I have found these in all kinds of subjects. Landscapes, portraits/human figure, and still lives make up the bulk of my photo work.

Q. When visiting the exhibition, what would you like the viewer to take from seeing your photographs?

A. I like to get people to slow down and see the details and form in something that usually passes through their life unnoticed. I would want people to see these little hills in a way that they perhaps have not before. And next time they see one on the street, maybe they will appreciate life’s potential for wonder just a little more.