Meet Matt Hebermehl: visual vortexes
SCAD alumni Matt Hebermehl, right, and SeeSaw cofounder James Zdaniewski.
Matt Hebermehl creates visual vortexes. His work shape-shifts to fit the space and the occasion, from the crumpled confines of a sheet of thermal paper to the broad expanse of a wall. A 2003 B.F.A. illustration SCAD alumnus, Hebermehl’s creations are always compelling and often collaborative. In Savannah, Hebermehl’s art has worked its transformative magic on public places in the city and in the private learning environment of his alma mater.
On occasion, he is a policymaker with a paintbrush. If you were to deconstruct one of his murals, striping one vibrant layer of paint off another, you might find the outlines of a projection – the telltale mark of collaboration between Hebermehl and SCAD 2003 computer art alumnus James Zdaniewski. This collaboration goes back to a projection the two cast on the western façade of SCAD’s Jen Library on the opening night of the 2009 Savannah Film Festival.
In 2011, Hebermehl and Zdaniewski cofounded SeeSAW, an arts organization that mobilizes artists, businesses, officials, and residents in advancing contemporary public art. That year, SeeSAW collaborated with Savannah’s Metropolitan Planning Commission to develop an ordinance that regulates the application process for the creation of public art on private property. In 2013, the Savannah City Council adopted that policy.
At SCAD, Hebermehl’s murals give external representation to the vibrant educational experience within the walls he enlivens. This fall, Hebermehl and fellow SCAD alumna Katherine Sandoz painted a mural to commemorate the life and legacy of their former SCAD illustration professor, Traci Haymans. Of Haymans, Hebermehl said, “As you think of her and remember her, you hope to carry on that smile and joy of life...” Located on the third floor of Haymans’ namesake hall – the new home of SCAD illustration – this 7-foot-by-20-foot portrait succeeds in sharing Haymans’ warm smile, soulful eyes, and exuberant spirit with a new generation of SCAD illustrators.
Hebermehl is now at work – using the permit made possible through his SeeSAW advocacy – on an external SCAD mural, which graces 1,800 square feet of Montgomery Hall, home to the university’s interactive design and game development, animation, visual effects, and motion media departments.
A visual bard who blends history with prophecy, Hebermehl states that, “…the content of the mural is not a literal representation of the building and the neighborhood, but represents the past industrial and commercial energy of the site along with the current creative and youthful energy of the environment surrounding the building as it exists now.”
The final design, according to Hebermehl, will be “visually striking,” and contain an “upward explosion of energy.” And if his previous work is any indication, this mural will be yet another dynamic display that celebrates the community it invites into the conversation.
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About the SCAD illustration program
The work of illustrators permeates cultures from the childhood classic “Where the Wild Things Are” to visualizing film sequences with storyboards and designing icons for the top iTunes podcasts.
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