Heidi Lewis Coleman
My work reflects an ongoing exploration into the aesthetics of using language in art. While most conceptual artists incorporate text into their work as a means of analyzing popular culture or for making political and social commentary, I am more intrigued with developing text as a visual design element. I am particularly inspired by Asian art and have studied the intricate calligraphy used to decorate ancient scrolls and screens. The columns of simple, yet elegant characters may express specific meanings, but a viewer is not required to understand that meaning in order to appreciate the grace and integrity of the artwork.
I create mixed media pieces and steel sculptures which incorporate my own automatic, abstract writing. Originally, my invented languages were painted on paper, cut out and then applied to a painted canvas. As the work has evolved, I’ve continued to develop new characters by deconstructing and reconstructing my original text, creating languages which are visually richer and more complex. More recently, I have extended this process by incorporating “Mandalas” into my art, circular forms which were originally used by the Hindus and Buddhists as focal points for meditation.
For me, the languages have an ancient, almost mystical quality. I believe that because my artwork communicates in the abstract, individual viewers are not forced to translate it specifically, allowing them to “feel” the energy of each piece and to take away their own unique messages on a subconscious level.