Through her latest exhibit, titled Colour Transfusion, local artist Heidi Hehn figured out a lot about herself.
“People asked me, ‘Why Colour Transfusion?’ And I’d say, Well, people need a colour transfusion after the long winter.
“I was just working in whatever I felt like and the only commonality was the colours, not the themes. And then I realized that wasn’t what was going on,” she explains.
As she tours around her works in the solo exhibiting space at Yukon Artists @ Work, she does point out the progression her colour palette has taken. The journey goes from deep, warm rich hues of reds and violets, to yellows washed with greens and a few gradients in-between.
But as Hehn admits, she discovered more than just hues.
“What was going on was some sort of communication. For me, that’s what an art show is – to communicate to the public what you’re doing.
“But, I wasn’t communicating to anybody but me; that’s what was happening,” she says. “I was actually subconsciously pushing myself in a direction, which I didn’t realize until today.”
And that direction could very well set the artist on a completely different and unfamiliar path. Hehn says she’s found her new palette with the reds, greens and violets, but there’s another adjustment to be made.
“There’s one more thing that has to change and it’s the tight reality that I have. Those lines, those distinct lines, they’ll have to go,” she says with a slight smirk.
“It’s going to have to get really fuzzy so it looks like your dream world, like another world.”
Hehn’s work is recognizable for its clean lines and proficient attention to detail. Through her meticulous brush strokes, she has brought to life countless bird species.
But when her work last went up in the Community Gallery, at the Yukon Arts Centre, she realized a passion for communicating this sense of a dream world where the colours and compositions are her choice and escape realism.
A conversation with fellow YA@W artist, Daphne Mennell, planted the seed that Hehn might need to change her artistic language or even her pursuit, for that matter.
“I think I’m tired of this kind of stuff. I already had decided about a month ago … I wasn’t growing. I could feel that this was sort of becoming stagnant,” Hehn says.
So she began experimenting with polymer clay and “went nuts” over what it had to offer her. Hehn reaches up to clasp a vibrant-green, heart-shaped pendant, strung from her neck, to demonstrate how far she’s come with the new platform.
Sculpture has taken Hehn’s focus, right now. She says she’s hard at work on colour clay pieces for a few upcoming shows. And therefore, her painting, and especially her realistic style, will take a back seat.
Hehn admits she might avoid realism for a while, or perhaps never paint that way again.
“But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? To go and find out instead of having the trip mapped. You just go and take the exits as they come.”
And while she may be exiting from a specific style, her contributions to the art world are not slowing down. Hehn, along with about 21 other artists at YA@W, is currently showing work at the Reach Gallery in Abbotsford, B.C.
What’s Going On Up There? is an exhibit on display, until September, to offer gallery-goers a glimpse of Yukon arts and culture in the brand new facility.
Furthermore, Hehn just completed work on a mural for Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services in Whitehorse. She conducted workshops with young artists from the Youth of Today Society and together they completed the outside mural, which was unveiled earlier this month.
“The mural design is a case of water being life and also attracting life.
“There’s no people in it, just wildlife and nature because the idea is that you can stand and look at it and you can put yourself into it,” Hehn explains.
“You can be in solitude in there and you can ground yourself, centre yourself, which is what Many Rivers is all about.”
Colour Transfusion is on display at YA@W until mid July. The mural is now on display at Many Rivers on 4th Avenue and Hawkins, in Whitehorse, along with an exhibit of artwork from Hehn’s youth workshops.