A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Matthew Sontheimer currently lives and teaches in Lincoln, Nebraska. The artist earned his B.F.A. degree from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1992, followed by a M.F.A. degree from Montana State University in Bozeman in 1995. Having taught previously at both University of Houston and the University of North Texas, Sontheimer now holds the title of Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Department of Art and Art History.
Within his small-scale, precisely rendered works on paper, the artist’s private thoughts become public as he transcribes his ideas into intricate drawings. Sontheimer shares his internal dialogue through an obsessive process rendered as a stream of consciousness, focusing on the analysis of a single museum label. Presented as a sprawling discourse between two parties identified as “miner” and “weigher” by their specific symbols, the artist winds his way through a variety of seemingly disparate topics, including font choices, four color printing, television shows, movies, and graphic design. Many of Sontheimer’s drawings embody the artist’s keen sense of humor and sarcasm.
Sontheimer renders the stacked, maze-like planes of his dialogue in both printed text and his own handwriting, often punctuated with his own sidebar comments about formal elements within the drawings. Around collaged images of artwork or scenes from popular sculpture, the artist displays a running dialog of his contemporaneous thoughts and responses, streaming across the page like tiny banners in online discussion boards. At times reading as both visual blog and conceptual play about the nature of representation and meaning, Sontheimer’s drawings revel in the exploration of ideas and the very act of discussion.
Sontheimer’s artwork has been shown in numerous exhibitions nationally, including the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; the New Orleans Museum of Art; the Jones Center for Contemporary Art in Austin; the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art; Talley Dunn Gallery, Dallas; Devin Borden Gallery, Houston; Achim Moeller Gallery, New York; Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans; and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art. The artist’s works are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.