HappeningsCLT recently chatted with Charlotte artist, Heather Freeman. We are huge admirers of her work and also of her as an artist, mother, scholar, archer, and all around genuine person. Read her beautifully candid answers to our questions below and then be sure to go to the CPCC Pease Gallery before September 4 to see her show, ‘Denisovan.’
HCLT: Describe yourself in three words
HF: Mom, Animator, Schildmaid
HCLT: Who or what inspires you artistically?
HF: a. Dead People: Hieronymus Bosch, Charles Darwin, William Faulkner, Carl Sagan, and my mom. There’s more, but these come to mind.
b. Living People: My husband, Jeff Murphy, and our son Quinn, our pets, Isabel Allende, Hayao Miyazaki, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. There’s a lot, lot more, but these also come to mind.
c. Culturally-Things: Most works tagged “Animation” on thisiscolossal.com, the Games for Change Festival, and historic evolutions in both public health and public education.
d. Non-Living Things: Scientific American, genetics, archery, Reedy Creek Park and Nature Center, and books. Lots and lots and lots of books.
HCLT: What do you think is the most valuable art experience in the Carolinas?
HF: Tough one. There’s so much. As a visual artist, I’m always drawn to music and dance which have such rich traditions in this region, but also have such a vibrant and contemporary presence as well. And maybe that’s because I’m hopeless at both.
And going back to traditions, there are Black Mountain and Penland: there are just so many great, historic places for folks to connect with the visual arts here.
But I think here in Charlotte, especially, my heart will always belong to the McColl Center for Art and Innovation
and The Light Factory
(though not to slight any of the other visual arts establishments, both large and impressive, and small and feisty!) Both of these institutions have been artist “homes” for me, I’ve raised my son with them, and I feel like my art has grown through their presence.
HCLT: When did you realize you were an artist?
: I’ve always resisted it, actually. I’ve always been a “maker” and daydreamer, but I never really felt worthy of calling myself an artist. My parents were both scientists and always supported and encouraged my art making, but I always felt like I could contribute best to society through the sciences. I really wanted to serve humankind. I still fantasize about taking biology classes at UNC Charlotte and someday curing sarcomas or inventing the first artificial womb or something useful. But in the meantime, I’m slowly coming around to the idea that creating art is another way to serve humankind. Still… artificial womb… firestorm, I know, but just tell me that wouldn’t be totally rad!
HCLT: Tell us about your current body of work.
HF: Denisovan (on view now at the CPCC Pease Gallery) is an interactive artist’s book (free for iPhone, iPad, and Android mobile devices). The images in the mobile app also exist as prints, and there’s a softcover book with the text and images from the story as well.
Denisovan is a fictional imagining of a girl who died 40,000 years ago. It was inspired by the genomic mapping of a contemporary of early humans and Neanderthal: the denisovan hominin. Bone fragments from a single individual were found in a Siberian cave, and paleogeneticists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology mapped the genome, determining that the fragments belonged to a previously unknown hominid.
The story of human evolution is a lot of things, for sure. Part of this mothers and fathers raised their children, generation after generation. We know that the denisovan girl had brown hair and eyes, but we can only speculate on her family structure, and how parent-child relationships may have evolved in the last 40,000 years.
HCLT: Where can we see your work?
is probably the best spot if you’re procrastinating at work. My animations, prints, mixed media works, and links to interactive works are all there, ripe for the virtual picking. But, if you can get there this month
, my project Denisovan
is also on view at the CPCC Pease Gallery
. There’s also a closing reception and artist’s talk there on August 28th, 4-7pm
HCLT: What book is on your nightstand right now?
HF: Literally on my nightstand, it’s Zen and the Art of Archery, but I finished that a while ago. Somewhere in the house, I’ve got A Dance with Dragons. With school starting, and at the rate I read, I should be done with it by the time George R. R. finishes the series. Yeah. I read that slow.
HCLT: What three things would you take with you to a deserted island?
HF: My family, my husband’s home brew stuff, and a fishing bow. Stoked! When do we go?
HCLT: What is up next?
HF: First, I’m rounding up an animation textbook for Bloomsbury Academic that should be available in early 2015. But I’m also storyboarding a series of animated vignettes, Terra Firma, which take a humorous (but loving) look at experiences of grief. I’m still toying with the idea of making it a mobile and browser-based game, though; I’ll decide once the basic narratives are solidified. I can code well enough to find my way out of a box, I guess, but it’s really not my favorite thing. So any programmers out there who are looking to collaborate, drop me a line!
I’ll also be working with the UNC Charlotte Archery club to get some folks competing this year. I won’t lie: me coaching archery is totally the blind leading the blind. Seriously, I suck at it. But learning to coach is making me a better teacher in a lot of ways. And when my computer crashes, shooting things keeps me sane.
Us too, Heather, us too 🙂
All images on this page © Heather Freeman. All rights reserved.