Briefly describe the work that you do.
My recent body of work consists of a series of graphite drawings on paper that investigate the area around my childhood home in the township of Franklin, Wisconsin. Each drawing presents a unique interpretation of the land. The imagery for my drawings are inspired by direct observational experience, memory, and photographic source material (including images from digital motion cameras used for hunting). Through the process of drawing, I revisit the landscape of my childhood as it was, as it is and as I imagine it to be. My subjects range from the intimacy of a found bird’s nest to broader landscape scenes of life-size animals and humans.
At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?
Art was ingrained in me. As a child, I participated in the art classes my mother taught out of our home. I filled with excitement every time I learned a particular drawing or painting technique during a lesson. The classes also meant that there were artists coming into our home and getting excited about their artwork. I had experiences creating, thinking, and talking about art alongside these creative people. From a young age, I knew that I wanted to be an artist and teacher. This drive has lead me to where I am today.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I have always had a fascination with the land and environment. From outdoor activities, to painting outdoors, or helping my father plant trees, the land has been an essential source of passion and inspiration for me. What I did not realize until moving to Boston was how important the specific land in Wisconsin is to me. My memories, ideas, and my emotions were connected to this specific place. As research for this body of work, I visited my home in Wisconsin, photographed the land, and communicated with my family about their attachment to our farm, their hunting rituals, and the animals on the land.
What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?
This work has enabled me to express my own personal narrative as well as reflect on what ‘home’ means and how it is linked to specific ideas of place. Each drawing interweaves the present moment mixed with a somber meditation on the past. My memories of home are full of nostalgia, something I have tried to imbue in these works. The work also reflects on the tragic and sublime aspect of mortality and of the physical and psychological frailty of the natural world. I draw places in which there is living and decaying matter and growth and life cycles of nature: a deer mount is now useless, deteriorating and returning to dust, while a fawn hints at birth and renewal.
We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?
Sometimes a single work will take months to complete because of it’s scale and/or detail. In my studio, I draw and write about my work, while trying to maintain my patience. I try to not get distracted while I am drawing and often listen to the constant buzzing of the tv or radio in the background to stay focused. I take a photo of the progress of my drawing at the end of each day in order to look at it later when I am off doing other things. It is how I stay involved in the progress of the work when I am not physically at the studio. Watching as the drawing emerges on the paper is motivation for me to come back and continue working.
What artists living or non-living influence your work?
Vija Celmins, KiKi Smith, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and George Slaw have had the biggest influence on my recent work. I feel that these artists have a genuine and deep connection to the land in their work. I am also inspired by the expansive landscapes of the Hudson River Painters and Joseph Mallord William Turner.
When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?
The main activity that I do when I am not creating art is teaching. I gain a sense of fulfillment from teaching various forms of painting and drawing and talking about art every day. I want my students to have meaningful experiences with art because it has played such a big role in my life and I am able to share my passion with them. My students inspire me, which consequently motivates me to make my own work.
Heidi Hogden received a BFA in painting from Minneapolis College of Art and Design (2008) and a MFA in studio art from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in affiliation with Tufts University (2012). While a MFA student, she was the recipient of a Graduate and Post Graduate Teaching Fellowship, the Montague International Travel Grant to study abroad in Italy, and the President’s Award in Painting (juried by Al Miner). Hogden was featured in the Boston Globe as one of six emerging artists following her Thesis Exhibition in 2012. Since then, her drawings have been featured in several group shows, including “New Talent” at Alpha Gallery in Boston, MA, and “Topographies of Space: Between Somewhere and Nowhere” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. Hogden has also had the opportunity to present and show her work in four solo exhibitions at the McGladrey Art Gallery at Bentley University in Waltham, MA, the Cornelius Ayer Wood Gallery at Middlesex School in Concord, MA, the Elizabeth A. Beland Gallery at Essex Art Center in Lawrence, MA, and the Upper Gallery at Buckingham Browne and Nichols, Cambridge, MA. Recently, Hogden was awarded a grant to attend the Vermont Studio Center Artist Residency in Johnson, VT. Her work can be seen in the upcoming South Dakota Governor’s 6th Biennial (touring) Art Exhibition at the South Dakota Art Museum, Brookings, the Dahl Arts Center, Rapids City, the Washington Pavilion of Arts And Science, Sioux Falls, the John A. Day Gallery, Vermillion and the Dacotah Prairie Museum, Aberdeen, SD.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.