I was instantly drawn to the unique palette and repetition of forms in painter Angela Heisch's recent series of works. They are urgent and a give us a sense of uncertainty in that perhaps, though we see tunnel forms and doorways, we might think twice about where they lead, or whether they lead anywhere at all.
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YS: So tell me a bit about yourself! You're based in Brooklyn; are you from NY originally?
AH: I was born in Auckland, New Zealand and lived there my first 9 years. My family then moved to Buffalo, New York, where I lived for the next 9 years, before going on to undergrad and grad school both in Upstate New York. I just moved to Brooklyn about 3 years ago, but have most always lived in New York.
What first interested you in making art? Who or what has influenced you the most?
That's hard to say--my dad's always had studio; when I was younger I spent a good deal of time in there painting and drawing--It wasn't until I went away to school that I developed a studio practice and consequently a serious dependency on making art. The artists and peers around me have been very influential, meeting other artists and a continuous dialogue has been most influential.
Can you explain your process? How do you get started on a piece, and where do you get your ideas from?
My process has just recently turned around. These recent pieces begin as simple black and white drawings, usually while I'm waiting for the train or when I first get to my studio. It's usually triggered by something I see while walking to the train, or to my studio, or sitting at a window, or in many cases, waiting for the train. My older paintings weren't enabling me to react to or take much notice of my surroundings, and the practice of being observant; using an abstract language derived from my daily commute, or familiar scenes outside of my window has been really fruitful.
What is your studio like?
My studio is in a pretty big warehouse building in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. It has a big window and a good amount of space. Last year, I was working from home. It was the first time I'd tried working from home and made me seriously realize how necessary it is for me to actually leave my apartment to make work. So right now, I'm real jazzed to have a space separate from home I can make work in.
You seem to be working primarily in acrylic lately; what is your favorite thing about the medium?
I've had back and forth feelings about acrylic paint over the past few years, but I think I'm finally learning to use it for what it's worth. Before using acrylic, I was primarily drawing, large-scale, charcoal on paper. I really came to enjoy the immediacy of drawing, and when I began painting again, acrylic seemed most appropriate. I love the fast drying time, and I really love the colors of Nova Color Paints.
Your recent work features a common element of a usually red tunnel-like form; what is the significance there?
Yeah, so these came out of a series of drawings I made a while back. I used this large, oblong, lozenge shape to convey a number of things, whether it be a form, doorway, shadow, column, void, etc. It's meant to be an associate shape, and the various arrangements of the shape are intended to elude to various associations, often all at once. These shapes are always in red because I really like the urgency the color gives off, as if these shapes only exist in this demanding, confrontational place.
What is the best advice you've ever been given?
To never stop making things.
What to find most rewarding about pursuing a career as an artist?
Learning how to be intentional. And studio days.
On the other side of that coin, what is the most challenging aspect? How have you dealt with that?
There have been times I've driven myself into dead ends, have felt real uninspired by the work I was making, or just haven't really liked the work that was coming out. It can be hard to know where to go next. Making sure to keep some form of practice going, even if it's just a little drawing here and there, has always eventually gotten me out of a work funk.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects?
I have a show coming up in December at an awesome space in Columbus, Ohio called No Place Gallery. Right now I'm at VCCA in Amherst, VA on a two week residency--working on a group of gouache paintings.
Find more at angelaheisch.com!
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