The human mind has the remarkable ability to perceive convincing patterns in puddles of chaos and banality. We are especially adept at making visual associations between diverse subjects. As children we become lost in the wonderment of clouds that transform into animals and the moon that wears the face of a man. In the collages of Sue Hettmansperger, disparate materials collide, generating new forms with traces of familiarity. Pieces of dried leaves and plastic pop rings are identifiable, carrying the weight of their own history. At the same time photographs and subtle marks of paint make these objects more difficult to place. The work channels both compatibility of forms and a growing tension between boundaries.
Blurred Boundaries problematizes our relationship with the natural world as we carry on with the invention of new technologies and the discovery of distant territories. Hettmansperger’s work recognizes the shifting of both visual culture and environmentalism as a result of these developments. We are asked to not only consider the relationship between forms and materials that exist on the flattened surface of a collage but also the very culture that is responsible for the existence of each mark. Plastic pop rings and paint are used to describe similar forms, establishing a democracy among materials. No longer positioned within a hierarchy of artist supplies; all matter (organic and human made) are staged as subjects of interrogation. This work is attentive to the space between the natural and manufactured world, honoring the underlying presence of human ecology.
Sue Hettmansperger holds M.A. and B.F.A. Degrees from the University of New Mexico (1967-1974) and currently is a Professor of Art at the University of Iowa. She was the recipient of a 2008 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in Painting. Her solo shows at A.I.R. Gallery in New York City have occurred in 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999, 1994, and 1990, as well as in numerous university galleries in the U.S. She is represented in the publication New American Paintings-Midwest (2010, 2005). Group venues have included the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago (2012), the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (2012, 2006), the Figge Museum of Art (2010), Bowling Green State University (2005), Northern Arizona University (2005), Grinnell College (2003), University of Texas, San Antonio (2002), Des Moines Art Center (1996), Hyde Park Art Center Chicago (1992), and the Evanston Art Center (1986). Major grants have included the Iowa Arts Council (Public Art 2009), University of Iowa Faculty Scholar Award (1999-97), UI Arts and Humanities Initiative Awards (2011, 2009, 2006), and an NEA Fellowship (1983). Artist residencies include the Corporation of Yaddo (2011), UCROSS Foundation (1992), Roswell Art Museum (1990, 1975), and the MacDowell Colony (1977). Selected collections include the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Des Moines Art Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.