Monday, July 29, 2013

Rings of Memory & Place: Heather Clark Hilliard at the 108 Contemporary

Guest Author: Mary Kathryn Moeller
Heather Clark Hilliard, Memory Ring (detail), juniper,
waxed linen & mixed media, 2013
As the inaugural artist-in-resident at Tulsa’s 108 Contemporary, Heather Clark Hilliard was presented with the unique opportunity to develop her residency project in the center of the gallery while interacting and engaging with the visitors.

Entitled Memory Ring, Hilliard’s work explores the life of Juniperus virginiana or more commonly the juniper or eastern red cedar.  The juniper tree is generally thought of as an annoyance and an invasive species, yet it is Oklahoma’s only native evergreen.  With the reduction of fire and the displacement of grazing animals in the plains and cross timbers ecosystems, the juniper tree has spread west at a rapid pace.  The history of this tree, preserved in its growth rings, tells the story of the changing climate and landscape of Oklahoma, which is indeed part a global story of change. 

The five juniper trees used in Memory Ring were sourced from Hilliard’s own property and sliced into small roundels which were then dyed with natural indigo, tannin, and iron.  The choice of indigo was a way for Hilliard to incorporate the cool blue of water as a foil to the element of fire, explored as a broader theme in her recent exhibit at 108 Contemporary, Finding the Fire: Concepts in Fiber. 
Heather Clark Hilliard, Memory Ring, juniper, waxed linen & mixed media, 2013
Once dyed, each juniper tree slice was painted with a single ring in the center indicating its core with black walnut ink.  The pieces were then stitched together into strands with waxed linen and radiate from a reclaimed metal holiday wreath ring suspended from the ceiling.  Inside the cascading lines of blue juniper, Hilliard hand-knitted a web of waxed linen which falls through the center as a delicate core.

Taken as a whole, Memory Ring allows viewers to consider, not just the natural history of the plains prairie landscape, but also the indelible part memory plays in constituting our lives.  The reconstituted juniper trees that Hilliard has raised in the center of 108 Contemporary are an examination of the individual pieces of memory that we gather together to form our past and present selves. 
Though Finding the Fire has just closed, Memory Ring will remain installed in the gallery for the next exhibition featuring artists from the Northeastern Oklahoma Woodturners Association.  That show opens on August 2 which is also the next First Friday Art Crawl in downtown Tulsa’s Brady Arts District. 

Hilliard is thrilled with the opportunity to be a part of the burgeoning Tulsa art scene.  She states, "Tulsa's arts district is a gem for Oklahoma and it was a good experience to live and work in the district for three weeks and become familiar with what Tulsa has to offer."
For more information about Heather Clark Hilliard and to see images of the process to create and install Memory Ring please visit her website, http://heatherclarkhilliard.com.

See a preview of Hilliard’s project  in this Art Focus Oklahoma article.

1 comment:

romy owens said...

heather clark hilliard is amazing!