One of my all-time favourite mosaic artists is Heather Hancock. I also discovered her work through Flickr (that’s sounding a little boring now – I think I need to branch out!) and she goes by the acronym hhmosaics. Not only are her mosaics amazing, she’s amazing.
I instantly fell in love with what she has been creating. Very original, very unique and very precise, in my humble opinion… I don’t know if I would necessarily say she was an emerging artist, after all she’s really starting to make a name for herself. Nevertheless the desire to include her in this series was overwhelming and I’ve been not only looking forward to writing something but also mulling it over in my mind so as to do her rightful justice!
Heather’s professional background is in communication disorders. She worked as a speech language pathologist for the most part of her career. Whilst travelling in the mid ’90s Heather had a total epiphany. She had visited Italica, the Roman ruins just outside Seville, Spain and Nora, in Sardinia as well as St Mark’s Basilica, Venice, to name but a few. It was this experience that began her mosaic career. She instantly made a connection with the mosaics she saw and felt the need to work with the medium. Heather dabbled in making mosaics alongside her career in healthcare from ’97 till 2003, when a turning point in her life made her reassess what was important to her. She decided to quit her day job and stay at home with her two children, which also gave her the opportunity to see where she could go with her mosaic work.
In the Spring of 2005 (Northern Hemisphere Spring, of course) she participated in the Orsoni course in Venice, Italy. As this has been her only formal instruction, it made her realise to what extent her work deviates from the traditional “grammar” of mosaics.
In the past year, Heather has in a sense reclaimed her professional roots in cognition and communication through her mosaics. Heather believes that communication and cognition are at the very core of who we are as humans, and her experiences of working with people whose ability to communicate or even think was altered by strokes, head injury or dementia, was very intense. She is very interested in how a sense of self or identity is dependent on communication and how that self-identity is shaped by every social interaction that we are a part of. The fact that we are constantly “creating” ourselves: modifying our emphasis to highlight new or different things, depending on the context, has been the basis of all her ungrouted work over the last year.
She articulates this so eloquently in her formal artist statement:
“I am irresistibly drawn to the processes that create a continuous sense of self. Trillions of synapses collaborate fluidly through unimaginably complex interactions allowing us to achieve narrative coherence, an autobiographical self, complete with freedom, responsibility and imagination.
As a speech-language pathologist, my work with adults following brain injuries gave me insight into the grim reality of a fragmented conscious experience. Amazingly even the severely injured displayed a relentless drive to re-organize and make sense of this disconnected or inexpressible existence.
My recent ungrouted work considers the significance of ‘noticing’ as an organizing force in mental life. These moments of noticing take place within contexts—the internal contexts of personal history and world knowledge, and the external or social contexts to which we are so keenly attuned.”
Her work is mostly featured in the Chicago, IL area. Her next big ‘do’ is the Artist Project which is a satellite show for Art Chicago 2008, which begins April 25. Go to her website or her Flickr site to see more of her work. That’s an order! She’s amazing, and her portfolio is so prolific I simply cannot include everything here…
The following Focus Series explores the notion of moments of clarity and insight in the midst of the blur of life.
Bend is inspired by the gorgeous, dynamic patterns created by light refracted through undulating glass (think glass blocks). From another angle, ‘bend’ is about our unique and surprising individual narratives, shaped by both perception and integration within a particular context.
In the bathrooms at Uncommon Ground restaurant on Devon in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood:
For the Recall series Heather states, “Episodic memory, or recall of personally relevant events or experiences, is central to our sense of who we are. Helping adults access those memories and express their narratives was my work in my earlier career in healthcare as a speech-language pathologist. Now, in the Recall series, my passion for cognition and communication as central to our humanity is connected with my work in mosaics.”
From the Glimpse Series:
Finally, meet Heather…