About

Matt Niebuhr is an artist and architectural designer living and working in Des Moines, Iowa.

.../miscellaneous - is a personal journal, self educational in nature, containing notes and images that inspire me, or that I wish to learn more about - as such, it includes works by other people as noted with full acknowledgment and credit to authors and sources where possible.

I also share content of my own making that I think is worth sharing with a larger audience. If there is any work by others who object to having their work posted here, I will remove the content if so requested.

Visit Matt Niebuhr - Works a site featuring my work exclusively. I established a studio practice pursuing personal work in the summer of 2012 named "West Branch Studio". In 2013 I became a contributing artist and designer with RDG Dahlquist Art Studio and RDG Planning and Design, a multidisciplinary design firm.

Matt Niebuhr - Drawings a visual journal of my work.

If you are interested in work(s) for purchase please see this or simply email me: niebuhr.matt [at] gmail.com.

Search for content

Above photograph - Traveler’s Joy #1 - Matt Niebuhr 2009
"A selection from a larger ongoing series, Traveler’s Joy seeks to explore aspects of our environment no longer “natural”. But what is a “model” of the natural?
Sometimes our intervention in the landscape is obvious and clearly bears the terminal scars of our actions. Other times the effect of our intervention is more subtle - nearly silent, invisible, and mostly unintentional.  This initial series highlights a condition of competition between native / non-native species.  The successful invasive species - namely English Ivy and Clematis vitalba (Evergreen clematis) found in Macleay Park, Portland, Oregon are threatening to overcome the native diversity of an otherwise healthy balanced ecosystem by suppressing all other vegetation in a slow and steady colonization towards a deadly monoculture.”
Joerg Colberg asks a great question today: "When does similar become too similar?" and so I’m wondering about this question some with a couple of bodies of work that I am working on.
My initial work on “Traveler’s Joy” above came into focus for me upon seeing the work of Anne Collette - “Invasive Species” - which in brief are pictures about in the artist’s own words - “Invasive Species (2005-2007), presents views of an invasive plant, Pueraria lobata or kudzu, which is overtaking large swaths of the Northeast. Here, the landscape is a metaphor for terrifying destruction and transcendent beauty at once.”

Above photograph by Anne Collette - from the series “Invasive Species”  (2005-2007)
I originally became aware of Coleltte’s work via “Mrs Deane” - and even left a comment I believe regarding the photographs and post because it was something that struck a chord with me.
Collettee’s work (that which I’m familiar with - only via the web) prompted me to reconsider what it was that interested me about our own “invasive species” problems here in the Pacific Northwest - particularly one of the problems found here in some of Portland’s wonderful “nature parks” and preserves.  I’ve been photographing a number of nature parks primarily in awe of the what nature presents here in the lush Northwest and have been slowly trying to formulate what exactly a “natural” landscape may look like - in short this relates to my “mental model” ideas where I am interested in comparing what I think something ought to look like - (in my mind’s eye) with what images I come back with through my camera.
Frankly,  I found Collette’s photographs - somewhat lacking in the sense that I felt there could be a stronger sense of invasion - perhaps even alluded to by the opening photograph - that of one of the more successful invasive species (hint: the early settlers via the Oregon trail).  So I decided that I would approach a similar circumstance and theme but here in my own backyard.  The results are preliminary and ongoing.
I feel compelled with Colberg’s question to “stake a claim” that it is - to offer up my opinion that the work I’m interesetd in doing which also deals with “invasive species” - and which I also consider a metaphor - and which is the reasoning behind the working title for this series “Traveler’s Joy” - a common name and also very loaded with just the sort of metaphor I am refering to.
In summary - I don’t think my efforts are “too similar” -either in the visual artifact of the photograph(s) or in the “idea”.  I will grant that we may be trying to say similar things - but I also believe in fact it might be better if this and other photographs of this theme be seen in relation to Collette’s body of work.  For starters simply to show that this “invasive species” problem can be found in any number of geographical locations….
That said, I’d be interested in what Colberg thinks.

Above photograph - Traveler’s Joy #1 - Matt Niebuhr 2009

"A selection from a larger ongoing series, Traveler’s Joy seeks to explore aspects of our environment no longer “natural”. But what is a “model” of the natural?

Sometimes our intervention in the landscape is obvious and clearly bears the terminal scars of our actions. Other times the effect of our intervention is more subtle - nearly silent, invisible, and mostly unintentional.  This initial series highlights a condition of competition between native / non-native species.  The successful invasive species - namely English Ivy and Clematis vitalba (Evergreen clematis) found in Macleay Park, Portland, Oregon are threatening to overcome the native diversity of an otherwise healthy balanced ecosystem by suppressing all other vegetation in a slow and steady colonization towards a deadly monoculture.”

Joerg Colberg asks a great question today: "When does similar become too similar?" and so I’m wondering about this question some with a couple of bodies of work that I am working on.

My initial work on “Traveler’s Joy” above came into focus for me upon seeing the work of Anne Collette - “Invasive Species” - which in brief are pictures about in the artist’s own words - “Invasive Species (2005-2007), presents views of an invasive plant, Pueraria lobata or kudzu, which is overtaking large swaths of the Northeast. Here, the landscape is a metaphor for terrifying destruction and transcendent beauty at once.”

Anne Collette - Invasive Species

Above photograph by Anne Collette - from the series “Invasive Species”  (2005-2007)

I originally became aware of Coleltte’s work via “Mrs Deane” - and even left a comment I believe regarding the photographs and post because it was something that struck a chord with me.

Collettee’s work (that which I’m familiar with - only via the web) prompted me to reconsider what it was that interested me about our own “invasive species” problems here in the Pacific Northwest - particularly one of the problems found here in some of Portland’s wonderful “nature parks” and preserves.  I’ve been photographing a number of nature parks primarily in awe of the what nature presents here in the lush Northwest and have been slowly trying to formulate what exactly a “natural” landscape may look like - in short this relates to my “mental model” ideas where I am interested in comparing what I think something ought to look like - (in my mind’s eye) with what images I come back with through my camera.

Frankly,  I found Collette’s photographs - somewhat lacking in the sense that I felt there could be a stronger sense of invasion - perhaps even alluded to by the opening photograph - that of one of the more successful invasive species (hint: the early settlers via the Oregon trail).  So I decided that I would approach a similar circumstance and theme but here in my own backyard.  The results are preliminary and ongoing.

I feel compelled with Colberg’s question to “stake a claim” that it is - to offer up my opinion that the work I’m interesetd in doing which also deals with “invasive species” - and which I also consider a metaphor - and which is the reasoning behind the working title for this series “Traveler’s Joy” - a common name and also very loaded with just the sort of metaphor I am refering to.

In summary - I don’t think my efforts are “too similar” -either in the visual artifact of the photograph(s) or in the “idea”.  I will grant that we may be trying to say similar things - but I also believe in fact it might be better if this and other photographs of this theme be seen in relation to Collette’s body of work.  For starters simply to show that this “invasive species” problem can be found in any number of geographical locations….

That said, I’d be interested in what Colberg thinks.