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Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

I grew up in Columbus, Ohio and then I lived in a few other places, including Beirut, Lebanon and Washington, D.C., before moving to Ramstein, Germany with my husband.

How did you get started on your Bakery series?

When we first moved here, we stayed in a little furnished apartment in a house belonging to a very sweet German woman. She would go to the bakery early in the morning and leave us fresh rolls outside our door, along with something they call honey butter or sometimes even a plate of cheeses and meats. The bread was mouthwatering and I was so charmed by this little routine of hers, visiting the village bakery two or three mornings a week. It reminded me of my apartment in Beirut, years ago, which was directly over a bakery. As a matter of daily life, people would come to get their bread and every morning I could smell fresh Arabic bread baking.

So, anyway, I got the idea to make these paintings celebrating the tradition of the local bakery, which remains alive and well in Europe, too. However, I understand it is becoming increasingly centralized and automated just as it has been for a long time in the U.S., unfortunately.

Croissant Rustika

What are some of your influences?

The work of German artist Peter Dreher and American artist Richard Baker influence my recent work. Both of these artists make repetitive paintings of single objects, highlighting qualities that are fleeting or past. I am not painting the same piece of bread every day, but I am attempting to capture a sequence of iterations of the same ritual, embodied in the bread itself.

I also enjoy the work of Ellen Altfest, especially her very detailed paintings of gourds and pumpkins, and I love Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings of food, as well.

A still-life by the artist.

These works are so detailed and life-like. How much work and time goes into one of these paintings?

They are all very small paintings, but the larger ones can sometimes take up to three days to finish. I can sometimes finish a smaller one in a day and a half. I have to work quickly because the bread starts to harden after only a day and it visibly begins to shrink a little on the surface and it loses its “life,” if that makes any sense.

Shokobrotchen

In your artist statement you say, "For me, painting is a form of meditation through sensory perception leading to a deepened awareness of material, culture, myth, and memory. " Could you elaborate?

I am also been influenced by the writing of Rebecca Solnit, who has protested against our tendency toward mass-produced, impersonal objects. For her, some objects carry traces of meaning, either because we have assigned them that meaning, or because only one or two people have produced them. So, painting for me is not just about finding a thing that looks pretty and capturing it, but to think about its place in the world through the slow act of looking and studying. I think this can be a celebration of the artisan, the craftsperson, the tradesman – or the baker - who produces small batches of things by hand, including food.

 

Heather's website.

 

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