Nate Mathews is a Chicago native who explores how architecture and the built environment affect those who use such spaces. In 2008, Mathews received his MFA from Columbia College Chicago. He is an Assistant Professor of Photography at Northeastern Illinois University and was recently featured in Photo Technique and Le Monde Magazines. He has had solo shows at the University of Notre Dame, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Morton College, McHenry County College, and the Steenbock Gallery in Madison and recently exhibited in a group show at Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago. He is participating in the ACRE residency this summer.
“Ersatz is a photographic exploration about how architecture influences those who inhabit it. Architecture plays an important part in how people interact, where and whether they interact, and how they feel about the activity that happens in the space. People recognize when they do not like a space or if it is lacking something and shown in this work is the attempts to rectify the flaws in the design.
Ersatz: [er-zahts]: An artificial substance or article used to replace something natural or genuine; a substitute. This work examines artificial features that are incorporated into publicly accessible spaces: commercial, corporate, and institutional, constructed environments in an attempt to mitigate or lessen the effect of structures that, while functional, are essentially cold flat featureless boxes. This collection seeks to draw the viewer’s attention to the presence of these ersatz elements in modern architectural spaces.
All of these images depict elements added to the environment to simulate comfort to those people who pass through these spaces. Some are of a more physical or sensory kind, such as a place for people to sit or something to look at. However, most ersatz elements relate to the connection of humans to nature. The place to sit or thing to look at becomes a place to look at nature or a representation therein”