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.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Time has flown by and I am finally finding time to post images from a solo exhibition I installed at Black Mountain Center for the Arts Sept 10 - Oct 21, 2010. I had a show there in 2003 when I was just beginning to build this new body of work. This recent exhibit included a full range of media; textiles, ceramics, collages, wire and gut and mixed media. The space is a wonderful space for the current scale of my work. It is intimate and yet allows me to play with groupings and vignettes. I love it when I have the opportunity to install a show. It allows me to explore new arrangements and create interesting relationships between individual pieces. The time I spent installing exhibits at the Asheville Art Museum was definitely evident in the composition and feeling created by the exhibition.
I am interested in a sense of a story, of an evoked narrative between materials and forms. Shadows created by and the space between forms are part of this idea of relationship and dialogue that I am expressing.

Monday, February 15, 2010

It has been awhile since I posted as Cornelis and I bought a house 10/21/09, brought it up to code, remodeled and moved in on 1/2/10 so things have been just a bit hectic. Right before we embarked on this new adventure I had a solo show here in Asheville at Blue Spiral 1. It was the first exhibition that included all the different mediums I am currently working with. It was exciting and a turning point for me to see the textiles, ceramics, prints, pieces in wire and gut, and collages all in one exhibit and working together very well. I have worried that the work might appear disjointed due to the wide variety of medium but the vessel and voyage imagery created and held a space of their own. I am not sure where I am headed and only time will tell.

Monday, June 29, 2009

These images are from the tableaux I created in the glass display case in my recent exhibition "Transition" in Kansas City. The interplay between the journals, the maquettes and the work was very inspiring and allowed people a glimpse into my working process, especially how integral journaling and visual journals are to how I work. Solo exhibitions are a wonderful opportunity to step back and review one's own evolution of their work. Generally work is boxed up in the studio and so I do not have the opportunity to see the evolution and progression of the work. In this case, it is a new body of new ideas and materials that have been percolating in the journals for years. There have been many tangents and backslides as I exlore different avenues, the show validated I am headed in the right direction. It was also very validating as a teacher of Creative Visual Journaling to step back and see how what I practice echoes what I teach.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Recently back from the Surface Design Association biennial conference in Kansas City,MO where I had a solo show "Transition." It marked my 'coming out' so to speak with a very new body of work that embraces the many different media I work in. The work displayed included whole cloth textiles and woven recycled cloth rag weaving both painted with surface design techniques, low and high fire ceramics, drypoint monoprints, collographs, and wall sculptures of bull kelp, bamboo and steel.The images above pan the exhibition moving from the left to the right. The intimacy of the space fitted the body of work well. I spent 2 days installing it. I love it when I have the opportunity to install a solo exhibition. I can listen to the work and create a sense of a conversation or dialogue between the work. The glass case in the middle displayed journals and maquettes of ideas. These added to a sense of the dialogue or progressive conversation of ideas that inspired the work. The staircases and sense of journey that have been the muse of my textiles for many years are evolving in to sense of a journey by vessel or boat.

On another note, Kansas City is great, full of old architecture, signs painted on old brick warehouses, now peeling off, a sense of westward and river history and very friendly. It was a stimulating conference on many levels. Seeing old and new friends, great exhibitions, speakers that stimulated thought and I had a wonderful group for my post conference workshop "Making and Keeping Creative Journals."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Time has passed and I am still getting used to blogging so I have a bit of filling in to do to catch this up to date. In January, as I was finishing the embroidery of the Biltmore project I created a valentine to send off to Fiberarts Magazine. I had the honor of having this valentine postcard selected for First Place in the Fiberarts Jacquard Card Valentine Competition. My husband Cornelis was honored and the valentine resides on a shelf in his massage room. It was the first creative endeavor after completing the panels. When you make something from your heart, it is imbued with a special energy.