Mary Beth Heffernan: Blue Series
Mary Beth Heffernan’s solo exhibition, Blue, recently opened at Sloan Projects in Santa Monica, CA and will run through October 17, 2015. This is the first time that this series of unique cyanotype photograms will be on view, and the exhibition is comprised of ten large-scale works on paper. Blue utilizes two early photographic techniques to articulate themes of “human intimacy and loss and the myriad ways the dead and the living continue to animate one another”.
This cameraless method of creating a photographic image dates back to the earliest days of the medium and produces results with arresting immediacy and distinctive, refined details that are lacking in prints created with negatives. Combining this method with the cyanotype process, Heffernan has produced a series of images at once sublime and fossil-like while evoking the physicality and dance-like movement of action paintings in their scale and calligraphic force.
Mary Beth Heffernan is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work explores the intersection between representation and physicality. She is Associate Professor of Sculpture, Photography and Interdisciplinary Art at Occidental College. Heffernan earned her BFA at Boston University in 1987, graduating Magna Cum Laude and awarded the Kahn Career Entry Award. She earned her MFA in the Photography Program at California Institute of the Arts in 1994 and appointed Fellow in the Studio program at the Whitney Independent Study Program 1994-95.
Heffernan’s social practice PPE Portrait Project successfully intervened in the recent Ebola epidemic in Liberia and was featured on NPR, PRI, the BBC, CSNBC and many other publications. Awarded the 2010 COLA Individual Artist Fellowship, Heffernan’s work is supported by grants from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, the Durfee Foundation and Light Work. Her Blue series will be featured in a solo exhibition opening in September 2015 at Sloan Projects in Santa Monica. Additionally, her art has been exhibited in solo shows at Craig Krull Gallery, University of the Pacific, Idyllwild Institute of the Arts, and Pasadena City College Art Gallery, the latter garnering a feature article in the LA Times. Group exhibits include High Desert Test Sites, LA Municipal Art Gallery, San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts, Torrance Art Museum, White Columns, Saide Bronfman Center for the Arts and 18th Street Art Complex in Santa Monica.
Heffernan’s art is included in numerous private and public collections, including the UCLA/Hammer Museum (The Book of Lies, Volume II, print collection), Light Work of Syracuse, NY, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and New York City Library (The Book of Lies, Volume II.
The Blue series began with a hanging sculpture made by gutting a men’s suit, cut to resemble a limp skeleton, hovering around a dress made of tissue-thin material. Using the sculpture to “draw” in the darkroom, the gestures were more akin to the process of dressing and undressing than the heroic performances of mid-20th century. The sculpture then serves as a “negative” to make the fossil-like photograms. I chose the cyanotype process, one of the most primitive methods of analogue photography, for its bare bones representation: paper, emulsion and object. The physical touch of clothing on paper is registered as a negative image, instantiating the subject’s presence through its absence.
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