Friday, October 1, 2010

Artist Talk: Heather Harvey

The work of Heather Harvey is something that goes beyond sculpture, and art in general, it morphs the line of where inspiration and meaning start and where they end. The thing that jumped out to me about Heather Harvey’s talk was her belief that her work was composed up of a “fragile interweaving of ideas”; her work is open to our own interpretation and our own ideas. However, she was quick to point out that it is dangerous for any artist to not to try and convey their own meaning behind a work. She explained that failing to provide your own meaning will invite people to give a meaning that was the complete opposite intention of the artist’s.

The way that Harvey explained how she found meaning in her work was very interesting because she explained her work in terms of meaning as being similar to poetry. She explained that poets have an initial “trigger subject” that compels the poet to begin to write, however, the poet should allow the poem to grow and shift as necessary, without doing so will cause the poem to become stale, contrived, and boring. Harvey explained that it is this “shift” in subjects, the zone between what is known and unknown, that intrigues her and helps inspire her work.

Another interesting point that Harvey brought up in her talk was of how she saw her sculptures and the wall on which they are fixed to. She said that she sees the wall as meaning to be fluid and tangible, and her sculptures, these wire-like and amorphous protrusions, portray the wall as seeping into the environment that they enclose. Also, it was interesting, and a little bit unsettling, to hear her talk about her use of materials (wax and plaster) as having a connection to the human body, by representing bones and flesh. However, this was the best way to think about the pieces because they are coming off of the wall and into a human environment, so it would make sense to see these “forms” as containing elements of what makes up a human being.

Finally, I have to admit that it was really cool to see an artist who describes some of their work as being part sculpture and part drawing; this was a combination that I had never really thought possible before. But now that I have seen examples of Heather Harvey’s work, I can see how interesting and thought provoking just such a thing is. Her work, like she said, blurs the line of what we see and what we think we are seeing.

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