writing

Discovering Mary Heilmann

Book: Mary Heilmann - Good Vibrations

I discovered Good Vibrations and the work of Mary Helimann from reading Inside the Painter's Studio by Joe Fig. Among many of the great artists interviewed, Heilmann's artwork stood out to me because of her use of bright colors, abstract subjects, and her explorations in to sculpture and space. Mary Heilmann is an artist that clearly reaps the benefits of the Postmodernism period. Robert Mangold offers a good perspective by saying, "postmodernism finished with the idea of an artistic avant-garde and with it's 'anything goes' approach, opened up a whole field of painting's potentialities" where it appears to "seem incalculable, opening up painting to the objective references and pictorial autonomy of endless possibilities of combinations, or formal allusions and thematic relations, of quotations and appropriations."
Basically after Postmodernism, artists like Mary Helimann were able to fully jump into the the deep end of painting without expectation or restrictions tied to the craft. Endless possibilities allowed Heilmann to engage with painting through things like furniture, offset canvases, shaped canvases, and wall installations. Now, many contemporary artists employ this style of painting, such as Wendy White, Letha Wilson, and many emerging artists like Benjamin Terry, Kelly O'Brien, and Ashley Peifer. 

Heilmann is intuitive and is confident in the purpose of her work. I personally loved her quote,  "I don't really want to tell people what to think or who I am, but let the artwork make them (her viewers) wonder who they are and help them figure out what to think." 

Another beautiful concept that Heilmann discussed is wabi sabi.

wabi sabi: an attitude in making things in the simplest, most basic way, in order to let nature be a part of the creation. Commonly associated with Asian art and art history.

It has three main points:

1. NOTHING LASTS

2. NOTHING IS FINISHED                   

3. NOTHING IS PERFECT

Through blending experimental practices, playful colors and shapes, and meditative concepts of wabi sabi, Heilmann has and continues to create a dialogue that widens and strengthens the field of abstract painting. 

Katelynn Knick