Matthew Keeney – Poughkeepsie, New York

Hangout: Part 5

“Hangout: Part 5,” 2013-present, video still

Briefly describe the work you do.

In my work, I look to the people, cultures, and structures within my environments to generate the content I work with. I use these elements to create work that draws attention to the relationships between them, and the high level of participation found within our contemporary society.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

Throughout my early years of being an artist, I traveled extensively and in many cases had to move often; thus working with my environment while using as few materials as possible become a large part of my practice. Working directly with public space and the people in it led me to branch out into the internet as a forum for engaging my audience.

The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

I feel a major part of my practice is collaboration, whether it is with people or my surroundings. Thus my “studio” can take on my many different forms from a social networking site to a street corner. Working in these different ways pushes me to keep an open mind when it comes to the creative process, as well as helps the work to continue to develop.

Found Space: Court House

“Found Space: Court House,” 2005, digital print

What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

When I began making art I was interested in working with materials and the craftsmanship that went into creating objects. As I left college, my ability to work in such a way was impaired by other factors in my life. While attending a low-residency graduate program, I had to learn to work more efficiently and with less material, which has helped to shape my current practice.

When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?

For myself, I ideally find the beginning of the day to be the best time for me to think creatively and get the most done. It is rare however that I find long or regular times within the day to work. Quite often a new idea will pop into my head when I least expect it. Therefore, much of my brainstorming results in brief notes that pile up on the corner of my desk, which I investigate further when time allows.

The Waiting Project

“The Waiting Project,” 2007-2008, image from performance

How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same? Though my subject has remained the same over the last five years, I have begun to see more integration between how I work with the built environment and my work online. By developing my profile online, I have been able to create more potential for interaction with my audience.

Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?

Throughout my pursuit of art, I have had incredible support from my friends and family. As my career as progressed, I have met many people along the way that have been incredible inspirations with their knowledge and passion for art. Another large part of my development has come through my love of sports, as an avid fan and someone who plays sports recreationally, I have looked for ways to incorporate this other passion of mine into my work.

If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?

Outside of art I have also worked for the last ten years as an educator. Working with groups of students from K-12 to the college level. I find working with students and the connections that I make with them to be very inspirational. Understanding the different ways of thinking that students have pushes me to rethink my own approach and practices


Matthew received his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and his BFA from the State University of New York at Fredonia. He has also had additional studies at the Lorenzo de’ Medici School of Arts and Languages, as well as the European Ceramic Work Centre. Over the years, Matthew has participated in a variety of residencies, and presented lectures at numerous institutions. Matthew has exhibited and performed throughout the United States, Mexico, and Europe, and has shown at the Arts Club of Washington (Washington, DC), Savannah College of Art and Design (Atlanta, GA), the CUE Foundation (New York, NY), and is also included in The Drawing Center’s Viewing Program (New York, NY).

Mathew Keeney artist lecture

Mathew Keeney artist lecture

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 

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