ELLEN HECK: Girl with a Blivet Pendant Wearing a Möbius Strip as a Hat
woodcut, drypoint, and watercolor on Somerset Velvet paper
22 x 30 in
Ellen Heck works as a printmaker in North Carolina. Over the past decade she has explored specific questions about identity—its creation, variability, persistence and change by combining subject matter and thematically resonant printmaking techniques. Heck is interested in making work that shares a sense of wonder. She also uses a body of work as a way of exploring an abstract question or concept; mathematics and geometry are often part of this process. She finds shapes like the Möbius strip or Klein bottles appealing because of their open-ended possibilities and the poetic nature of their definitions. Generally, this practice of intellectual investigation gives rise to more questions, which become the foundation for the next series. Heck has been predominantly a printmaker, but more recently she has been working on a new series of paintings that study portraiture, symbolism, and topology inspired by William Adolphe Bouguereau’s Broken Pitcher. Heck attended Brown and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. However, her mother is a commercial artist and since her early days has been her most influential teacher. During art school and at the beginning of her professional life Heck was able to work freelance for her mother. This allowed Heck time to work at Kala Art Institute in Berkeley during the day and make more reliable money doing graphic design at night. Working at Kala for nearly seven years was the foundation and formation of her career, and while there she was part of a critique group of artists who became mentors and close friends. Heck frequently discovers new ideas by reading and through teaching. She been deeply inspired by the work of Mary Cassatt, Dieter Roth and David Hockney. The set of 10 color prints are her favorite works by Cassatt and her favorite works of printmaking in art history. Heck’s first gallery solo show was based on this series. In addition to Mary Cassatt, artist and author Audrey Niffenegger, and author Maria Popova have influenced and inspired Heck.