Mary Beth Heffernan
Professor, Art History & Visual Arts
Department Chair, Art and Art History
Education: B.F.A., Boston University; M.F.A., California Institute of the Arts; Fellow, Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, 1995
Mary Beth Heffernan is Professor of Sculpture, Photography and Interdisciplinary Art at Occidental College. Heffernan earned her BFA at Boston University in 1987, graduating Magna Cum Laude and awarded the Kahn Career Entry Award. She earned her MFA in the Photography Program at California Institute of the Arts in 1994, and appointed Fellow in the Studio program at the Whitney Independent Study Program 1994-95.
"Though I use a broad range of media and different modes of address, the work is united by abiding questions about physicality and representation: How are bodies transcribed into photographs, scans or algorithms? How do pictures literally and figuratively change our bodies and our relationship with others? How and when does language take on physical force? What are the gaps and failures of language to translate the complexities of the physical world, daily labor, bodily experience, and, more broadly, ourselves as subjects?"
Heffernan's social practice PPE Portrait Project to humanize the frightening protective gear worn by Ebola workers in Liberia garnered international recognition on NPR, PRI, the BBC the Los Angeles Review of Books, CSNBC and many other publications. The project was also featured in Tiffany Schlain's 2015 film The Adaptable Mind.
Awarded the inaugural 2016 PAC/LA Contemporary Artist Grant@ The Huntington and the 2010 COLA Individual Artist Fellowship, Heffernan's work has also been supported by grants from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, the Durfee Foundation and Light Work.
Heffernan’s art is included in numerous private and public collections, including the Hammer Museum/Grunwald Center Collection (The Book of Lies, Volume II), Light Work of Syracuse, NY, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and New York City Library (The Book of Lies, Volume II.) She is represented by Sloan Projects of Santa Monica, CA.