Enriching lives through art and craft

Heather Hietala

Heather Hietala
Ancestral, 2021
Wood fired ceramic, steel, paperclay, underglaze, encaustic

Cultivating Creativity / June 13 – 18, 2021

Artist Statement:
My art distills and expresses my journey through life. Each piece holds a story, hidden in the materials: in the marks of my hand, in the clay I shape, in the words inscribed in the clay, paint or plexiglass or written on gut and paper, in the subtleties of the branches pruned and peeled from my pear tree, in the abandoned lead tire weights collected on urban walks, in broken glass transformed by wood fire into beauty again. Each material and process brings its own limitations and history, enriching the personality of the piece. Fragments of this story or inner dialogue are inscribed onto the surface of a piece alluding to a common human dimension that we all share, language.

The vessel in all its many forms is my muse. Seedpods, canoes, paddles, sailboats, dinghies, weaving shuttles, and kayaks are part of my personal history. I use the boat or vessel as a symbol for life’s journey and as a metaphor for the self. It is a metaphor of interior and exterior, of protection and containment, of transport and journey, of function and as a tool like a boat or tatting shuttle or a seedpod full of seeds with the ability to create. They are both universal and personal. I use a wide variety of materials and techniques to create layers and textures to express the patinations built up by living. Much of my ceramic work is fired in a salt or wood kiln, the unpredictability of these atmospheric firings echo the unpredictability of life. Recently I have begun to let the flaws, the cracks show. Scar tissue, emotional and physical is an integral part of life, both personal and societal. I use thread and metal stitches to visibly mend; they are both structural and decorative. The upcycled glass alludes to water but also to the inner strength inside each of us that we call upon when needed.

My work is about relationships, those found in life and the materials themselves. My work explores motion and stillness, balance and counter balance, of soft and hard materials, of delicate and strong, mass versus line, stillness versus movement, large versus small, and heavy versus light. The vessel allows me a vehicle to investigate ideas, narratives and relationships. My art serves as ballast and anchors my life. I create it as an antidote to the hectic craziness of the modern world we live in.

ART WORKSTENNESSEE ARTS COMMISIONTENNESSEE FOR THE ARTSTennessee Specialty License PlatesEAST TENNESSEE FOUNDATIONWindgate Foundation Arrowmont is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP5534 awarded to the State of Tennessee by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

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