Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Year in Review

2011 was a year to remember and forget. Lat year began with my husband deciding he wanted out of our marriage. In NC one must wait and have a year of separation before getting divorced. Last year was a rocky one for me. I was still Heather Allen-Swarttouw. Here is a few images of what I did do. In April I went north and exhibited at Crafts Boston. I now jury in to these shows under mixed media though my work is not all mixed media. My current body of work is comprised of work in a wide variety of media so I fall under the category mixed media. While in NH I visited family and began dealing with the aftermath of my Dad's life. He passed away in Nov of 2010. I am experiencing a number of rites of passage. All part of life's journey. 2012 will see hints of my processing them in new work.
My trip continued south to exhibit at the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, DC. It is always great to exhibit at these shows. They allow me to receive feedback and responses to this new work. They also allow me as an artist to stand back and just enjoy the work. Each time I put up a display at a show it is different. The individual pieces in my current body of work are like a cast of characters that I can arrange to create mini dialogues or discourses between them. I am an extremely visual person and enjoy arranging and rearranging to create new relationships. I do this same idea on the walls of my home. Negative space or the space between is so important when creating vignettes or tension between pieces.

Back in Asheville, this is a display wall I had at Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts in June. Cornelis and I bought a house in 2009 and I am still setting up different studio spaces in my home studio. Luckily I will be staying here. I have the book/wire/gut/paper studio up and running and I have the textile and mixed media larger space going. I do not yet have a ceramic studio set up so I rent space at Odyssey. Last fall I began teaching an 8 week class at Odyssey, "Honing In," which combined my creative journal teaching and used a journal to help focus and develop a direction in one's ceramic work. This spring I am teaching a 16 week class, "Exploring a Focus."

This is another wall display that I had at Odyssey Center in December. This time I used the wall pedestals I designed for the 2010 exhibition at Black Mountain Center for the Arts. They present my horizontal vessels very nicely against a wall. I continue to rearrange pieces, sometimes more successfully than others. This grouping below is beginning to come together. The vessel on the wall is heavy and studded with steel screws so it is a very heavy piece on many levels. I have exhibited the vessel by itself, this paddle is heavier that most of the them and I think balances the vessel. For now I feel they go together.
This horizontal vessel on the shelf explores a new idea and has a handmade Coptic book sew into it. The pages are cut from topo maps, individually cut to evoke the motion of a wave cresting. It is exploring a new idea and one that I believe will be ongoing. I inherited the family sailing charts from my Dad after his passing. Even as a child I loved maps and remember sitting with my Dad in the cabin of "Sorea", our aged Hinkley, going over the next days sailing charts with him. This idea of using maps or charts is continued in the paddle blades in the piece below. I have used kakishibu or persimmon tannin to transform the pages. The vertical vessels look like they are carved of wood but are ceramic with many layers of oxides and textures. I really enjoy working in different materials and creating similar yet different forms and surfaces. I look forward to getting back in the swing of things this year.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hietala Name Change

I changed my name and feel I need to explain. I am going thru a divorce and reverting back to Heather Allen would throw me back with the thousands of other Heather Allens that are out there. I am taking my Finnish grandmother's maiden name, Hietala (hee ay tah la) which I have always liked. It means "place of sand," a fitting name for one who has always been drawn to where the land meets the sea. I have bottles and bottles of sand that I have collected all my life from beaches and dunes all over the world. It will be a process, this name changing, but eventually Heather Allen-Swarttouw will just be a blip in the greater scheme of things.