Wednesday, November 13, 2019

#Meettheartist
Meet Joanne Weis
" I now consider myself a professional artist who makes art to tell the stories I feel need to be told, especially about the sanctity of the earth we were given and now seem to be destroying."



Tell us your artist story, some biographical info, when did you decide to be an artist? Why do you make art? Where did you study? Etc.
Even though my professional career was not involved with the arts, I have always made art. It may have been set designs for my daughter’s music programs or banners for the church or taking classes one at a time at the various art schools in my area. As my career was winding down and my kids were setting out on their own, I began taking art classes more seriously, eventually getting my Masters Degree in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Louisville.  I now consider myself a professional artist who makes art to tell the stories I feel need to be told, especially about the sanctity of the earth we were given and now seem to be destroying.


What do you want people to walk away with after experiencing your work?
Often, I say “My work is really done when it is up on someone’s wall”. It makes me happy when people are drawn into the piece, finding secrets in the detail, and, whether or not they purchase the piece, show me that they could live with it.

What influences your work? Why?
My medium is textile, dyed, printed, cut, ripped, stitched or whatever else I need to tell the story I want to tell. Environmental issues are the main influence on my recent work.  Currently I am working on a series for a solo show that addresses the social justice issues of environmental degradation – polar melt, garbage, water shortages, land degradation, etc., with the content inspired by the 2015 Papal Encyclical Laudato Si.


What does it mean to you to participate in Hera an exhibiting artist for the In God We Trust exhibition?
I’m originally from Rhode Island, though I haven’t lived there in years.  However, I still consider it home and it is a privilege to have my work exhibited in my home. Unfortunately, I am not able to attend any of the Colloquium at URI but the concept of God in contemporary America is intriguing. 


Earth – Ancient Element
Hemp – hand dyed, printed, appliqued and embroidered


Hagia Sophia

Tencel – hand dyed, printed, embroidered

Mussels Under, Barges Over the Ohio River
Hemp – hand dyed, printed, embroidered

Visit Joanne's website to see more of her work:



Tuesday, November 12, 2019

#MeettheArtist
Meet Chloe Wilwerding

"I propose questions around spirituality to encourage myself and others to contemplate what our spiritual needs are and whether they are being met. "


Tell us your artist story, some biographical info, when did you decide to be an artist? Why do you make art? Where did you study? Etc.

I was always a Region 99 on the career aptitude portion of standardized tests. Region 99 is the ambiguous area for people whose interests show no clear career direction or, as I prefer to think about it, people who are broadly curious. For me, art creates opportunities to think through making and deeply explore the wide range of topics I am curious about. 

I have my BA in political science and studio art from Middlebury College and my MFA in printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design. I am originally from Nebraska and currently live in Salem, Massachusetts.

What do you want people to walk away with after experiencing your work?

My work primarily focuses on spirituality. While my role as creator feels powerful, I do not want to use it to impose a belief system on my audience. Instead, I propose questions around spirituality to encourage myself and others to contemplate what our spiritual needs are and whether they are being met.  My work does not mandate any action on the part of the viewer. It instead prioritizes reflection. 

In my Origins series, part of which is included in In God We Trust, I probe the relationship between religion, ritual, and consumption. I question whether religion conditioned people to be told the best way to live and if that conditioning also makes people vulnerable to corporations’ messaging about how to live. Through making the work, I reflected on my own consumption-based rituals, and I hope that the work raises similar opportunities for others to reflect. 

What influences your work? Why?
Classical, ecclesiastical, mythical, philosophical and pop culture references all influence my work. I am interested in existential questioning and find that these sources all pose some sort of answer to deep, persistent, and very human questions about our purpose. 

The most lasting influence on my work is my Catholic upbringing and immersion in the material culture of Catholicism as a child. Catholicism introduced me to the power of objects and images and how this power can be used in uplifting or controlling ways. I continue to explore this power through images and materials that draw from Catholicism. 

What does it mean to you to participate in Hera an exhibiting artist for the In God We Trust exhibition?
One recent trajectory in my work has been imagining a new spiritual tradition that acknowledges and prioritizes women’s needs and creates sacred spaces for myself and other women. Hera Gallery has similarly created space for women, and this show generates conversations around religion that are important to me. I am excited to participate in this show that puts my work in conversation with other artists who are exploring similar subject matter.  





Visit Chloe's website to see more of her work: https://www.chloewilwerding.com

Monday, November 11, 2019

#Meettheartist
Meet Matthew Coté

"I enjoy sparking discussion because, even though I may not be able to change someone’s mind of create empathy, a discussion lasts. A discussion reverberates from person to person and reveals hidden truths to people either a part of or observing the discussion."


Tell us your artist story, some biographical info, when did you decide to be an artist? Why do you make art? Where did you study? Etc.

I was born and raised in Tacoma, WA, and I am currently residing in Erie, PA. Finding my way towards an interest in art was a long process of discovery. I was always interested in art when I was younger, but I never took it seriously until much later. Art took a serious hold on me during college. When it came to working with metal I first became interested while attending Tacoma Community College’s sculpture program. My professor handed me a MiG welder and basically said, “Have Fun.” I was fascinated by the welding process and enjoyed producing work almost as quickly and spontaneously as I came up with them. That fascination led me to my initial focus in producing large-scale sculptural installation projects, mostly in steel. 

Eventually, after graduating from community college I lost interest in sculpture and installation shortly after taking my first metalsmithing class. Making work quickly and in large-scale had its benefits but I never attained any real satisfaction from the process or the end result. Metalsmithing allowed me to focus my ideas. I enjoyed the process more, and the end result was satisfying unlike previous attempts made on my early work in steel. I eventually attained my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from Central Washington University (2011) and then my MFA in Metalsmithing from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (2018).  

I produce art because I enjoy interaction. I enjoy the dialogue I can create with others who view my work. I enjoy the interpretations people take from my work and the discussion that stems from those interpretations.


What do you want people to walk away with after experiencing your work?

Initially, I thought the goal of my work was for a viewer to maybe learn something new about themselves, or to discover empathy towards the issues of others. Now, I have come to understand that true value is in the discussion that is sparked from my work. I enjoy sparking discussion because, even though I may not be able to change someone’s mind of create empathy, a discussion lasts. A discussion reverberates from person to person and reveals hidden truths to people either a part of or observing the discussion. 

Sometimes a piece of mine is a reactionary critique on an event or perception, other times it is a calculating paradox that stides the line of an issue. Sometimes I strike a cord of humor, other times I am dead serious. No matter what tone or intention in design the goal of my work is to be a spark towards something more.

What influences your work? Why?

What influences me is manipulating the various implications behind how jewelry is perceived. I came to find that Jewelry was a better way to convey the messages of my work. Jewelry and metalsmithing are my tools for political activism, as well as to broaden art outreach within a community. When jewelry is worn it is a statement. Depending on the placement on the body it can imply feelings, such as sexuality or arrogance. Jewelry is influential, and sometimes subliminally so. I enjoy that jewelry has a chance to breach outside the gallery walls and be worn as a statement or critique. The person becomes the gallery. Even when displayed off the body a piece of jewelry bares implications of value, eccentricity, and stereotypes related to value and desire. 

What does it mean to you to participate in Hera an exhibiting artist for the In God We Trust exhibition?

I was excited to be accepted into the exhibition, because it is a profound honor. The topic of the exhibition is controversial and provocative. As a venue itself Hera has a history of being ahead of the curve and pushing boundaries, the topic of this show is no exception. To be apart of such an exhibition allows my work to be viewed and critiqued in a new way, with other work exploring the same topic.

To see more of Matthew's work visit his website: https://www.matthew-cote.com

Friday, November 8, 2019

#Meettheartist
Meet Tamara English


"My paintings may be considered portals to interior spaces, to inner realms beyond the physical, and outside the rational; referencing nature and different cultures as a way to expand our sense of reality."





Tell us your artist story, some biographical info, when did you decide to be an artist? Why do you make art? Where did you study? Etc.

I have been an artist as long as I can remember. To me, each person has a reason for being here, a purpose, a life mission. Mine is being an artist, exploring themes of awakening to the presence of the divine, re-enchantment, and nature as a catalyst for discovering the sacred in life. I graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon in 2004. Since then, my work has been exhibited extensively in the US and internationally, including at the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, and the US Embassy in Riga, Latvia. My work also appeared on Season Three of “Portlandia’  and was featured in a film about Portland artists called “Art: PDX, Artists In Their Studios.” 

What do you want people to walk away with after experiencing your work?
Throughout the last 400 years of history rational thought has been pointed to as the ultimate tier of the mind’s capability. This romanticizing of the rational has meant the deconstruction of the enchantment of everyday life. Yet there are, as is now being discovered, levels of thinking and knowing that transcend rational thought. What happens when one accesses these new paradigms of thought that allow mystery and the inexplicable to exist in our day to day lives? What happens when one is invited to cultivate enchantment, the expanding of what is possible and even miraculous in life?

My paintings may be considered portals to interior spaces, to inner realms beyond the physical, and outside the rational; referencing nature and different cultures as a way to expand our sense of reality. The work invites the viewer to enter a contemplative state. Here one may find a sense of upliftment and well-being, and the experience of being nurtured by beauty. 

What influences your work? Why?

The visual vocabularies of Islamic tile-work, Christian illuminated manuscripts, and 20th century particle physics serve as references for my work. The patterns found in the decorative elements of places and objects of worship reveal the movement of the energies of the inner worlds, making visible what transpires behind what appears. The interior of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul is enlivened with intricate patterns. The tile-work transports one to a place of awe and wonder. One can’t help but to feel the infinite raining down. 
Elements of natural world also inform my work, through the felt senses such as the experience of the atmosphere of a lush forest or the beauty of a rose. The aliveness of the forest connects one to the aliveness inside oneself. Here, beauty of the world allows a quieting inside to invite contemplation of something greater than oneself.

What does it mean to you to participate in Hera an exhibiting artist for the In God We Trust exhibition?

It is an honor to be participating in the In God We Trust exhibition. I appreciate how art helps to get people talking and thinking about things that may not come up in everyday conversations. Religion in America is such a wide reaching and topical subject. It feels important to be talking about now. My hope is that the exhibition will also encourage individual reflection about our own relationship with what has sacred meaning to each of us. 

With reverence and respect for the many ways that people worship and find connection to what has sacred meaning, my work explores what happens when we seek a relationship with the sacred outside any particular path or tradition.This is a dialogue inside oneself, seeking to understand. Is the Divine that I seek to be in relationship with kind and compassionate? How do I feel the presence of the sacred in my life?

Some people say artists are chroniclers of what is happening in the world. Yet, I consider my role as an artist to show what is possible for the future, a future that includes peace and respect for each other. If the visual vocabularies of these different traditions and cultures can harmonize on the canvas, perhaps they can harmonize in the world.



You can view more of Tamara's work on her website: http://tamaraenglish.com


Thursday, November 7, 2019

#Meettheartist
Meet Lee Tonks

"I hope that my art will raise awareness and create dialogue between opposing views and hopefully one of those debates will change someones mind."


Tell us your artist story, some biographical info, when did you decide to be an artist? Why do 
you make art? Where did you study? Etc.

Since the age of 15, when I came across a camera and started experimenting with photography, I have always had a camera with me and was always that person clicking away, at the age of 30, I came across the Julia Dean Photo workshops in Venice beach California and started taking fine art photography classes with the likes of Julia Dean, Douglas Kirkland and many other notable professors in the world of photography.  My first series "Behind closed doors" won an exhibition at LAGMA at the Municipal art gallery.  Since then I have exhibited and been published across the globe and won most of arts most prestigious art competitions.

What do you want people to walk away with after experiencing your work

I don't want them to walk away, I want them to stay there and stare without knowing exactly what it is that draws them, I say that, because this was what an art historian once told me about my work, he said "I can't stop looking at this piece and I can't put my finger on exactly why that is, I'm just drawn to this work"

What influences your work? 

Social injustice.  When I see social injustice, like the recent murder of Philando Castile, eric Garner, Michael Brown and Laquan McDonald, To name a few, the list is endless, I feel sick to my stomach, how can one human being do this to another? it's barbaric, cruel and unnecessary.  I use my art to speak for me and for those afflicted, I have seen my art in different galleries around the world and it always has an impact on people, it always creates dialogue, which I hope can affect change.

What does it mean to you to participate in Hera an exhibiting artist for the In God We Trust
exhibition? 


When I saw the exhibition title "In god we trust" I thought it was a perfect fit for my series depicting Jesus Christ on a cross, with the distinction that Jesus is depicted with a skin color that is the same as my daughters skin color and hair type the same as my daughters hair type.  I thought that it might be a little too risque for the gallery to exhibit, from the series that I shot, there are other images with my wife on the cross and police officers with guns drawn and the title "Drop your weapon", I felt sure that these images would not get selected as they definitely push some buttons that people do not want to push, people mistakenly think that the series is anti police or anti religion, which could not be further from the truth.  I have many friends who are in law enforcement and they are as sickened by these acts of social injustice as I am, this is not saying that all cops are bad cops but it is saying that when a person in a uniform shoots an innocent young black male, it destroys the very fabric of our society. I hope that my art will raise awareness and create dialogue between opposing views and hopefully one of those debates will change someones mind.  No one should be scared of art or what it represents.






To see more of Lee's work visit: https://www.leetonksphotography.com




Wednesday, November 6, 2019


#Meettheartist
Meet Sonia Peterson

"I want my work to make the viewer question social norms and ideas, preconceptions and traditions. I want the viewer to ask new questions and seek new answers."


An economist by education, I studied at Moscow State University of International affairs, most of my classmates are working for the Russian state department now. I have 4 citizenships (USA, Israel, Grenada, Russia), so that road was never open for me. I’ve always been more interested in commenting on politics, rather than being involved in them. I worked as a journalist before becoming an artist, that job took me all over the globe, I was immersed in a completely different world.

So many people I met have a narrow view of life, and as they’ve gotten older, they’ve become more and more sure of the righteousness of their opinions. But one who doesn’t question will never learn! That is why children learn so well, they question everything, are not afraid of being wrong. I want my work to make the viewer question social norms and ideas, preconceptions and traditions. I want the viewer to ask new questions and seek new answers. 

Exhibiting at Hera is an awesome opportunity, and I am very thankful for my work to be placed next to so many other talented artists, in such a creative space. The work that is on display is part of a series called ‘In god we trust’, so this exhibition is the perfect opportunity to showcase this piece. 



Visit Sonia's website to see more of her work:

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

#Meettheartist
Meet Eric van der Vlugt

"By elevating the things we take for granted to an iconic, epic scale, make the otherwise unremarkable into things of wonder."






Tell us your artist story, some biographical info, when did you decide to be an artist? Why do you make art? Where did you study? Etc.
 I was born in The Netherlands and grew up in Laren, a small village outside Amsterdam. The village was made famous by the “Larensche School” of landscape painters (like Jozef Israels and Anton Mauve) who flocked there because of the vibrant purple heather and silver birches. Even the streets were named after painters. So at a very early age I knew wanted to be an artist - how could it have gone differently? I studied traditional printmaking Atelier Mashuff in Brussels, Belgium, before coming to Philadelphia College of Art, where I graduated with a BFA in printmaking. I have taught at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), West Chester University and Philadelphia College of Art, and today my studio practice is primarily focused on drawing and painting.
What do you want people to walk away with after experiencing your work?

I would like people to remember what it was like to be curious, to discover in ordinary objects and simple human situations the quiet grace we knew had been there all along. To remind them that old, simple truths live on. By elevating the things we take for granted to an iconic, epic scale, make the otherwise unremarkable into things of wonder.

What influences your work? Why?

The question for me really is how to make sense of the world and my place in it, and how to filter, synthesize and express the beauty I see through my work. 

What does it mean to you to participate in Hera as an exhibiting artist for the In God We Trust exhibition?
                                                                  
In as much as America is the great melting pot (until recently), it stands to reason that it also represents the great blending of religious precepts. The idea for the show excited because I painted Maia and her mother Adrienne willfully in the Christian tradition of Madonna and Child, but instead of the iconic golden halo, I introduced the zodiac with its sign positions exactly as they were at Maia’s birth. Maia and Hera also moved in the same circles in Greek mythology. In short, the show begs the question whether dogma or spirit will come to rule the day - after all, Maia’s intellectual growth is going to be informed by her immediate and unfettered access to mankind’s collective knowledge, traditions and spiritual beliefs. 


Eric's website has more of his work for you to see: https://www.ericvandervlugt.com/


Monday, November 4, 2019

#Meettheartist
Meet Stephen Spiller


Tell us your artist story, some biographical info, when did you decide to be an artist? Why
do you make art? Where did you study? Etc. 
I’m convinced that life experiences, difficult or not, have an impact, certainly psychological (indirect/unconscious) if not otherwise (direct/conscious), on one’s decision to make art. And
so I’m certain that social, cultural and political issues dominate my work because, for example, my sister was killed by a drunk driver, my brother-in-law committed suicide, family members died in the holocaust, my children are adopted, and more. 

I am self-educated, as an adolescent hardly being even aware of art which was not a family
pursuit. Then, about age forty-five, I visited Kenya and became utterly enthralled with photographing
animals, landscapes and people, shooting some fifty rolls of color film in a few days! For years thereafter I worked at street photography, haunting locations mainly in Los Angeles and New York City. Pressing the shutter was an instinctual matter. My approach was to shoot first and consider the metaphor later. 

Eventually, I began digitally manipulating my work to better express my thoughts. For example I manipulated my submitted image, “You Have To Be Catholic To Get To Heaven” to try to maximize scorn such an idea. 

The second image attached, one of many I’ve done on the subject of rape, also comes about from personal experiences, both as an attorney expressing outrage at legal defenses to that crime, and as man horrified by those denying rape as a crime of violence. 

My work has been exhibited in over seventy-five gallery and museum shows in the U.S. and internationally, including Los Angeles (I’m a member of the Los Angeles Art Association), New York, Bejing, Tokyo and many more locations. I’ve also been published several times in Musee
Magazine. 

What do you want people to walk away with after experiencing your work?
I care primarily about just one thing - that people will look at my work and think critically about their own beliefs on whatever subject is being portrayed. I ask others to consider: What does your own voice say on this matter? I challenge people to make an effort to think for themselves. 

What influences your work? Why?
Of course, from what I’ve said above, developing my thinking and then being heard on subjects I have directly experienced is what drives me forward. Additionally, I am so often offended by superficiality in many arenas, e.g. politics, advertising, entertainment that depends on ever greater showing of violence, money as the report card on life, etc. I always want to make artworks on all these subjects.  

What does it mean to you to participate in Hera an exhibiting artist for the In God We Trust exhibition?
I just returned from a show in Barcelona. It was the inaugural exhibit of a new gallery called Foto Nostrum in which I showed three images. I had lunch with the gallery owner and met a number of the artists. This experience created for me an opportunity to go beyond my zone of comfort showing my art and being with artists. It is the same with Hera Gallery. I am so happy to be recognized in a new venue and connect, even in a limited way, with new artists, particularly when the subject is of religious, social and psychological importance. I always love the idea of being the messenger in a new situation, and try to challenge the audience to unravel my message.





Stephen's work is available to view on his website: https://stephenspiller.com/home.html



Friday, November 1, 2019

#Meettheartist
Meet Sally Chapman


Tell us your artist story, some biographical info, when did you decide to be an artist? Why do you make art? Where did you study? Etc.

Sally Chapman is a photographer living in Lowell, MA. She earned a BFA in ceramics and photography from Michigan State University. For over twenty years she worked as a ceramic artist in Colorado showing extensively in New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.  Moving to California and Massachusetts her attention went to spiritual pursuits seeing that the desire to create art is the same as the desire for spirit. 

The magic of capturing images at night inspired her to begin creating artwork again with the camera. Her photographic subjects are often of the urban landscape and neighborhoods. Recently she has been shown in exhibits at the Cambridge Art Association, Springfield Art Association in Springfield, IL, Griffin Museum in Winchester, MA, Barrett Art Center in Poughkeepsie, NY, Fort Collins Lincoln Center, MIT Rotch Architecture Library, Gallery 93 in Brookline, and The Sanctuary Gallery in Medford, MA. She is a member of the Boston Camera Club, and Greater Boston Night Photographers.


What do you want people to walk away with after experiencing your work?

I hope that people come away with a fresh look at what they may have considered mundane. In my series that I am working on “Alters and Shrines” I am photographing in people’s homes that which they regard as sacred. Many friends have at first said that they didn’t have a shrine but in seeing what I am doing they realize that they do.


What influences your work? Why?

Currently I love finding unique events that tend to take place in smaller towns. Looking at street photographers, both current and twentieth century inspire me to keep looking at to dig deeper. The small towns offer some fresh material not shown by more urban photographers. 


What does it mean to you to participate in Hera an exhibiting artist for the In God We Trust exhibition?
I am grateful for the exhibit “In God We Trust” as many venues don’t want to exhibit work with a religious theme. This is exactly what I am exploring in this series; the fact that we are a more secular society but at the same time we still hold an inspiration to something higher. It is not something we wear openly especially in New England. 





You can see more of Sally's work here: https://photographyatelier.org/artist/sally-chapman/

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

#meettheartist
Meet Neville Barbour

"I want people to appreciate the syncretic nature of humanity."






Tell us your artist story, some biographical info, when did you decide to be an artist? Why do you make art? Where did you study? Etc.
 I grew up in two separate worlds. Feeling accepted and rejected by both, I wouldn’t change the experience for the world. 

Art has been the only steadfast thing that I’ve held onto throughout my life. In some ways, my commitment to art has taught me how to commit to others. 

I studied at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. 

What do you want people to walk away with after experiencing your work?

I want people to appreciate the syncretic nature of humanity. 

 What influences your work? Why?

History and religion influences a lot of my work. I’m very interested in what “different” people do under similar circumstances. I think there’s more commonality than people would like to admit.

What does it mean to you to participate in Hera an exhibiting artist for the In God We Trust exhibition?

Religion is one of those things that can be essential to a person’s wellbeing yet is often not talked about it. In some ways, it seems that we hide our faith in fear that people will judge our irrational thoughts. After all, religion is one of the few perspectives that can’t be proven. And in a lot of ways, it relies on our blind faith to stay relevant. 

Honestly, I’m just flattered to share my perspective.