Heffernan's COLA Fellowship Work to Be Exhibited

Mary Beth Heffernan, associate professor of sculpture and photography in the art history and visual arts department at Occidental College, is one of 13 artists awarded the 2010 City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship, an internationally recognized mid-career artist's award and grant presented by the city's Department of Cultural Affairs. 


In spring 2009, each Fellow was peer-reviewed within a non-thematic selection process. After selection, each Fellow was granted $10,000 to created new work for either a group exhibition or a stage presentation. The exhibit opens Sunday, May 23, and remains on view through Sunday, July 18 at the L.A. Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park.

Heffernan's COLA exhibit features Smile, an anamorphic vinyl wall installation, and Holbein's Teratoma, a sculpture fashioned from the vinyl waste of the wall stencils. A spirited "conversation" with Hans Holbein the Younger's 16th-century painting The Ambassadors, Heffernan's Smile conjures the grin of Holbein's anamorphic skull in a slick 21st-century memento mori, while Holbein's Teratoma suggests a more unruly corporeal and cognitive vanitas. Heffernan describes the installation as engaging "that particular icon of American optimism, the smile."

Critic Peter Frank said of Heffernan's work, "Her praxis is [rooted in] epistemology--the knowledge of knowledge. Heffernan is fascinated with things and with the human drive(s) to make and to know things--ultimately, as she puts it, ‘what is at stake when meaning falls through the cracks' or ‘fails to be translated from one register to another.'"

Heffernan's art is displayed in numerous public and private collections, including the UCLA/Hammer Museum (print collection); Light Work of Syracuse, NY; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Heffernan earned her MFA at CalArts followed by a studio fellowship at the Whitney Program in New York City.

The COLA exhibition's opening reception will be held on May 23 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Heffernan will discuss her installation at 2 p.m. on June 19 as part of the Municipal Art Gallery's Conversations with the Artists, a dialogue series with the 10 visual arts Fellows. Admission to all events is free.

The COLA Individual Artists Fellowships are awarded to honor a spectrum of the city's most creative artists who dedicate themselves to an ongoing body of excellent work, represent a relevant progression through their pieces or series, exemplify a generation of core ideas in their field, garner respect from their peers, and serve as role models for other artists. Since 1995, DCA has awarded more than 115 fellowships to outstanding mid-career artists for the conception, creation, production, and presentation of new works.