Heather McGill

Featured Piece
Heather  McGill Untitled

Untitled
- Acrylic on paper , 2016
25.5 x 48 in
CALL FOR PRICE

Taking in the increasingly complex sculptural works of Heather McGill is a battle of contrasts. Surface and ground duke it out, with cool transparent plastic overlaid on a myriad of lush hand-painted color, intricate laser-cut patterns neatly pinned down by hand stitching. A swarm of cultural references, profound and playful, banter about. She brings a new kind of meditation on volume and void, a baroque vision in plastic.

Her work with Plexiglas was inspired in part by Roland Barthes’ 1957 essay on plastics, in which he describes the ubiquitous modern material as completely lacking in ambition. For McGill, this text became a kind of challenge to make plastic not only ambitious, but luminous, even transcendent. As an artist working at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, in the suburban outskirts of Detroit, she points to the vocabulary of the American automotive industry in all its opulence and failure; this is her most constant source. Her work adapts the finishes of the looming car culture, in particular the customizers, mimicking its color and flair. The strata of plastic and ground setups up a brilliant, nearly unsettling interaction of color. The manner in which she handles these mundane industrial materials — compressing, cutting, layering, stretching, distorting, and stitching — constructs a surface that certainly trumps Barthes claim.

From a certain vantage point, her rich patterning reads as highly ordered biomorphic abstraction, but on closer inspection all kinds of specific imagery emerges. She draws upon far-flung sources for her stencil—fragments of lace, snakeskin, patterned fabrics and printed diagrams, high and low. The new work shifts between hypnotic pattern and scientific inquiry, finding structure in celestial diagrams and technological blueprints. In the s body of work, completed in an intensive nine-month period, she revisits toy models of the American space station (in 1:72 scale), and exploratory drawings of the planets. In the ultimate mash-up of post-war American industry, space exploration, and car customizers, she sifts through stuff that kids of her generation were steeped in, and fabricates it in candy-color synthetic brilliance.

McGill does not conceal her sources so much as layers them and manipulates scale to create her own form of camouflage. With the repeat of the lunar model she abstracts it in two dimensions, repeating its awkward, vaguely mechanical outline again and again almost like wallpaper. Another source is 19th century astronomical drawing, an elegant spiraling pattern of planetary rotations, here reduced to sweeping oblong discs. The treatment only underscores the artist’s fluid position between two- and three-dimensional objects, flattening out three-dimensional shapes, and building up pattern to a near three-dimensional illusion. Assembled plastic drawings occupy space like sculpture, and planar sculpture hangs like a drawing, there is not a concise boundary for her constructions. Her work reimagines industrial form and material, depth and surface, inquiry and ornamentation, all exquisitely engineered packages.

Catalog Essay by: Diana Gaston, for the exhibition Dear Things, Sweet Things

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Heather  McGill Untitled Untitled
Acrylic on paper   2016
25.5 x 48 in
Call For Price Framed
MCGH9837
Heather  McGill Now Voyager Now Voyager
Acrylic on linen   2015
49.5 x 25 x 6 in
Call For Price
MCGH9836
Heather  McGill Three Points for Henry Moore
Acrylic, paper on linen   2015
24 x 48 in
Call For Price
MCGH9835
Heather  McGill Untitled Untitled
Acrylic on paper   2016
50.5 x 31.5 in
Call For Price Framed
MCGH9838

3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 120, Works per page

formatting

 

Heather  McGill

Heather McGill

Heather McGill Description

Taking in the increasingly complex sculptural works of Heather McGill is a battle of contrasts. Surface and ground duke it out, with cool transparent plastic overlaid on a myriad of lush hand-painted color, intricate laser-cut patterns neatly pinned down by hand stitching. A swarm of cultural references, profound and playful, banter about. She brings a new kind of meditation on volume and void, a baroque vision in plastic.

Her work with Plexiglas was inspired in part by Roland Barthes’ 1957 essay on plastics, in which he describes the ubiquitous modern material as completely lacking in ambition. For McGill, this text became a kind of challenge to make plastic not only ambitious, but luminous, even transcendent. As an artist working at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, in the suburban outskirts of Detroit, she points to the vocabulary of the American automotive industry in all its opulence and failure; this is her most constant source. Her work adapts the finishes of the looming car culture, in particular the customizers, mimicking its color and flair. The strata of plastic and ground setups up a brilliant, nearly unsettling interaction of color. The manner in which she handles these mundane industrial materials — compressing, cutting, layering, stretching, distorting, and stitching — constructs a surface that certainly trumps Barthes claim.

From a certain vantage point, her rich patterning reads as highly ordered biomorphic abstraction, but on closer inspection all kinds of specific imagery emerges. She draws upon far-flung sources for her stencil—fragments of lace, snakeskin, patterned fabrics and printed diagrams, high and low. The new work shifts between hypnotic pattern and scientific inquiry, finding structure in celestial diagrams and technological blueprints. In the s body of work, completed in an intensive nine-month period, she revisits toy models of the American space station (in 1:72 scale), and exploratory drawings of the planets. In the ultimate mash-up of post-war American industry, space exploration, and car customizers, she sifts through stuff that kids of her generation were steeped in, and fabricates it in candy-color synthetic brilliance.

McGill does not conceal her sources so much as layers them and manipulates scale to create her own form of camouflage. With the repeat of the lunar model she abstracts it in two dimensions, repeating its awkward, vaguely mechanical outline again and again almost like wallpaper. Another source is 19th century astronomical drawing, an elegant spiraling pattern of planetary rotations, here reduced to sweeping oblong discs. The treatment only underscores the artist’s fluid position between two- and three-dimensional objects, flattening out three-dimensional shapes, and building up pattern to a near three-dimensional illusion. Assembled plastic drawings occupy space like sculpture, and planar sculpture hangs like a drawing, there is not a concise boundary for her constructions. Her work reimagines industrial form and material, depth and surface, inquiry and ornamentation, all exquisitely engineered packages.

Catalog Essay by: Diana Gaston, for the exhibition Dear Things, Sweet Things

Heather McGill Resumé

Installations/Exhibitions
2016
Unnamed Need: Pattern and Beauty in Contemporary Art, Wriston Art Galleries, Lawrence University
Appleton, Wisconsin

2015
Dear Things, Sweet Things, Jaffe-Friede Gallery, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 2015

2014
The Color of Everything that is Empty, Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, Ohio, 2014
Spiral Galaxy, Miller Yerzerski Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts, 2014

2013
Night Moves, Burlington City Arts, Burlington, Vermont, 2013
Car Art/Crash, Elaine L. Jacob Gallery, Wayne State University, Detroit Michigan, 2013
Oblique Angle, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2013
Art X Detroit, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit, Michigan, 2013

2012
Heather McGill: One Person Exhibition, Ellen Miller Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts 2012
Pulse Contemporary Art Fair 2012, New York, New York

2011
No Object Is An Island: New Dialogues with the Cranbrook Collection,Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 2011
Micaela Amateau Amato, Lynda Benglis, Heather McGill,Dwight Hackett Projects, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2011
Paper Cuts, Fullerton College Art Gallery, Fullerton, California, 2011

2010
Edge: Heather McGill, Richard Rezac, James Shrosbree, Paul Kotula Projects, Ferndale, Michigan, 2010
The Last Time I Saw Richard, The Sculpture Center, Cleveland, Ohio, 2010
Topographies, Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New York, 2010

2009
Second Best and Scraps and Makeshifts, Dwight Hackett Projects, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2009
Michigan Masters Invitational, Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 2009

2008
Art on Paper, Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina, 2008
REMIX Recent Acquisitions: Work on Paper, Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New York, 2008
Considering Detroit, Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, Michigan, Catalog, 2008
Flower Power: A Subversive Botanical, The New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2008
The Matter at Hand, Memphis College of Art, Memphis, Tennessee, 2008

2007
Birds, Dwight Hackett Projects, Santa Fe, New Mexico 2007
Pull My Daisy, Miller/Block Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts, 2007
Cut, Paul Kotula Projects, Ferndale, Michigan, 2007

2006
Harmless Visual Stimulation, Dwight Hackett Projects, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2006
Cutting, Miller/Block Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts, 2006

2005
Extreme Abstraction, Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New York, 2005
Draw, Dwight Hackett Projects, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2005
Heather McGill: Black Drawings, Miller/Block Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts, 2005

2004
About Painting, The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Saratoga Springs, New York, 2004
New Work, Dwight Hackett Projects, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2004
10: A Ten-Year Anniversary Exhibition, Revolution, Ferndale, Michigan, 2004

2003
Lines, Dots and Curlicues, Miller/Block Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts, 2003
New Prints 2003/Summer, International Print Center, New York, New York, 2003

2002
Bounce!, Revolution, Ferndale, Michigan, 2002
One-Person Exhibition, Revolution, Ferndale, Michigan, 2002

2001
Prototype: Invention & Design in the Work of Four Artists, The Arts Center of the Capital Region, Troy, New York, 2001

2000
On Paper III, Revolution, Ferndale, Michigan, 2000
Particular Vision II, Hill Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan, 2000

1999
Wall Magnets, Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, 1999
Postopia, Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, California, 1999

1998
Invitational 1998, Knoedler & Company, New York, New York, 1998
Painting Language, L.A. Louver, Venice, California, 1998
Memory, TZ’ Art & Company, New York, New York, 1998

1997
Esthetics of Minimized Drag, Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, Michigan, 1997

1996
Particular Vision, Hill Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan, 1996

1995
Intervention, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan, 1995
Natural Inclination, Krasl Art Center, Saint Joseph, Michigan, Catalog, 1995
Gallery Artists, Hill Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan, 1995

1994
Paper Doll / Social Template, Organization Independent Artist, New York, New York, 1994
Kresge Art Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, 1994
Popular Culture, Hill Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan, 1994

1993
Here’s Looking at Me: Contemporary Self-Portraits, Espace Lyonnais d’Art Contemporain, France; Serpentine Gallery, London; Palais des Beaux Arts,
Brussels; Seville Museum, Seville, Spain, Catalog,1993
One-Person Exhibition, Hill Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan, 1993
William Traver Gallery, Seattle, Washington, 1993

1992
Fragile Ecologies: Artist’s Interpretations and Solutions, The Queens Museum of Art, Queens, New York; Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, Washington; Madison Art Center, Madison, Wisconsin; San Jose Museum, San Jose, California, Catalog, 1992
A Siege in the Room, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, 1992
Group Show, Hill Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan, 1992

1991
Nine Plus One: New Work by Cranbrook’s Artists-in-Residence, Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, 1991
Kunst kommt von Technik, Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany, Catalog, 1992
Art From The Exploratorium, Mole Antonelliana, Torino, Italy, Catalog, 1992
Technorama, Winterthur, Switzerland, 1991

1990
Artists Respond to the Environment, Palo Alto Cultural Center, Palo Alto, California, 1990
PUBLIC ART: Models & Drawings, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, 1990

1989
Untitled, Exploration: City Site Phase II, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, California, 1989
36 Trees, Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California, 1989
Condo, Public Sculpture in Marin, Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, California, Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, 1989

1988
Art in Public Buildings, California State University, Fresno, California, 1988
ARS-Y-TECH-URA, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, California, 1988
The Garden Project, Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, California, 1988
Isla de Umunnum (Island of the Hummingbirds), Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Sanctuary, Collaboration with John Roloff, Moss Landing, California, 1986-88

1987
Crow Canyon Garden / Sanctuary, Crow Canyon Institute, San Ramon, California, 1987

1986
Three Floating Pieces for the Oakland Estuary, Oakland, California, 1986
Landscape: Unusual Vantages, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, California, 1986

1985
Nature as a Metaphor, The Annual: San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, California, Catalog, 1985
Crystal Spiral / Native House, Interarts of Marin, Corte Madera, California, 1985

1984
Lite / Site / Projection, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, California, 1984
Four New Works, The Exploratorium, San Francisco, California, 1984

Commissions/Public Art
AXA Art Insurance, Art Basel Miami Beach, 2009
Delphi Automotive Systems, General Motors Worldwide Headquarters, Troy, Michigan, 1997
Isla de Umunnum (Island of the Hummingbirds) Elkhorn Slough National Estaurine Sanctuary, Collaboration with John Roloff, Moss Landing, California, 1986-88

Reviews/Publications
Gaston, Diana “Dear Things, Sweet Things,” Jaffe-Friede Gallery, Hopkins Center for the Arts, Dartmouth College, 2015 
(exhibition essay)
Taylor, Sue, “Canny Devices, Uncanny Enigmas,” Canzani Gallery, Columbus College of Art and Design, 2014 
(exhibition essay)
McQuaid, Cate. “Art Gallery Review: Cracking open dreamtime with visual punch” The Boston Globe , March 26, 2014.
McQuaid, Cate. “Art Gallery Review: Can Paisley, plaid, and wood grain coexist?,” The Boston Globe , April 18, 2012.
Mullins, Matthew. “Interview with Heather McGill,” ArtSlant, February 21, 2012.
Margolis Pineo, Sarah. “ Is There a Place for Poetry? Art and Resistance in the Twenty First Century,” Cranbrook Art Museum, November 2011. p. 93-94 (catalogue)
Russo, Kim. ‘Tedious Beauty,” Albuquerque Journal, June 19, 2009
Halperen, Max. Review “Art on Paper.” ART PAPERS, January/Feburary 2009
Green, Roger. “Cranbrook Craft and What the Future May Hold,” American Craft Magazine, Summer 2008, p. 60. (image)
McQuaid, Cate. “Balancing Artifice and Innocence,” The Boston Globe, June 7, 2007
Craig, Gerry. “Formal Magnetism,” Surface Design, summer 2007, p.26-31
Berkovitch, Ellen. Review, Artforum, September 2006, p. 381-382.
Ross, Alex. “Heather McGill: Harmless Visual Stimulation,” THE Magazine, August 2006, p. 71.
Berkovitch, Ellen. “Out of Site,” Art + Auction, June 2006, p. 92.
McQuaid, Cate. “Marks of Distinction,” The Boston Globe, February 9, 2006
Hirsch, Faye. “Abstract Generations,” Art in America, October 2005, p. 191.
Laget, Mokha. “Heather McGill: New Work,” THE Magazine, July 2004, p. 73.
Craig, Gerry. “Chromatic Insurgency,” Sculpture, Volume 22, No. 8, October 2003.
Tysh, George. “Art That Bytes,” Metro Times, January 29-February 4, 2003, p. 10-12.
Wilson, Stephen. Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology. MIT Press, 2002, p. 253.
Tysh, George. “Cut From the Mold,” Metro Times, March 20-26, 2002, p. 24.
Alsenas, Linas. “Designers on the Rise,” Interior Design, No. 14, November 2001, p. 82-83.
Hough, Jessica. “Prototype: Invention & Design in the Work of Four Artists,” The Art Center for the Capital Region, Troy, New York, 2001. (essay)
Blinderman, Barry. “Wall Magnets,” Cranbrook Art Museum, November 1999. (essay)
Campbell, Craig S. and Michael H. Ogden. Constructed Wetlands in the Sustainable Landscape. Wiley, 1999, p. 234
Kingsley, April. “Perfection,” dART International, Volume 2, No. 1, winter 1999.
Pagel, David. “Abstract Views,” Los Angeles Times, August 28, 1998.
Popeson, Pamela. “Loading the Canon,” Cover, Volume 12, No. 5, 1998.
Miro, Marsha. “Design as Discourse,” Casabella, Volume 646, 1997, p. 38-47.
Carducci, Vincent. “On View,” The New Art Examiner, January 1996.
Grande, John K. Balance: Art and Nature. Black Rose Books, 1995, p. 208.
Yau, John. “Storehouse of Virtual Reality,” 1995. (catalogue)
Brunon, Bernard P. “AUTOPORTRAITS Contemporains,” Espace Lyonnais d’ Art Contemporain, January 1993. p. 92. (catalogue)
Farr, Sheila. “Good Medicine, Fragile Ecologies at the Whatcom Museum of History and Art,” Artweek, Volume 24, No. 6, March 18, 1993.
Hackett, Regina. “The Art of Saving the Earth,” Seattle Times, February 26, 1993.
Stark, Gail. “Earth Healing Arts,” The Berringham Herald, March 3, 1993.
Nawrocki, Dennis. Sculpture, March - April 1993, p. 76-77.
Heartney, Eleanor. ART News, Volume 91, No. 10, December 1992, p. 122.
Miro, Marsha. “At Cranbrook: A Room of Her Own,” Detroit Free Press, December 13, 1992.
Klemic, Mary. “A Room with a Point of View,” The Eccentric, December 31, 1992.
Kimmelman, Michael. The New York Times, November 27, 1992.
Hess, Elizabeth. “A Gallery of Trash,” Village Voice, October 6, 1992.
Matilsky, Barbara C. Fragile Ecologies: Contemporary Artist’s Interpretation and Solutions, Rizzoli International Publications, 1992, p. 104-107.
Multi Mediale 2, Zentrum fur Kunst und Medietechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany, 1991, p. 16-28.
Solnit, Rebecca. “Public Art Works: Bringing the Mountains to Mohammed,” Artweek, September 9, 1989.
Thibeau, Alice. San Francisco Magazine, p. 104, June 1989.

Education
San Francisco Art Institute, M.F.A., 1984

Teaching & Residencies
Head, Sculpture Department, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, 1991-present
Artist in Residence, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire 2015
Artist in Residence, Pilchuck Glass School, Seattle, Washington, 1993
Assistant Professor, Sculpture Department, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, New York, 1989-1991
Visiting Lecturer, University of California at Berkeley, California, 1986-90
Artist-in-Residence, The Exploratorium, San Francisco, California, 1983-841

Awards
Kresge Artist Fellowship, 2011
Louis Comfort Tiffany Biennial Award, 1999
California Arts Council Grant / Art in Public Buildings Program, 1986
Small Projects Award, Interarts, Marin County, California, 1985
Ford Foundation Grant, 1984

Lectures/Panels
Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 2015
Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan 2010
Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 2010
Progressive Insurance Company Headquarters, Cleveland, Ohio 2010
Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island, 2009
Interactions-International: Women, Art, Criticism, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2008
Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Fellowship Panelist for Sculpture, 2007
Dialog 360: Artists in Conversation, College of Santa Fe, Santa Fe New Mexico, 2006
Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, Massachusetts, 2004
Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2003
Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, 2003
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, 2003
Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, 2002
California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, California, 2002
Institute of International Education, National Screening Committee, New York, New York, 2001-04
Washington University, School of Art, St. Louis, Missouri, 1999
17th International Sculpture Conference, panelist, Chicago, Illinois, 1998
Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut, 1996
New York University, New York, New York, 1995
Aesthetics and Ideologies: Interdisciplinary Conference, Conference in Modern Literature,
Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 1994
University of California at Davis, Davis, California, 1990
New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, New York, 1989
University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, 1988
Mills College, Oakland, California, 1988
San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, California, 1988
California Arts Council, Art in Public Places Selection Panel, Sacramento, California, 1988

Public Collections
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
US Embassy, Helsinki, Finland
University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital
Miami Art Museum
The Kresge Art Museum
The Progressive Art Collection
Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art
Wellington Management, Boston, Massachusetts
Hallmark Inc., Kansas City, Missouri
21C Museum, Louisville, Kentucky
Sprint, Overland Park, Kansas
Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New York
Fidelity Investments, Boston, Massachusetts
Compuware Corporation, Detroit, Michigan
Daimler Chrysler World Headquarters, Auburn Hills, Michigan
Detroit Institute of the Arts, Detroit, Michigan
Seattle University, Seattle, Washington
Delphi Automotive Systems, General Motors World Headquarters, Troy, Michigan
Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
State of California, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Moss Landing, California
Falkirk Cultural Center, City of San Rafael, San Rafael, California
The Exploratorium Science Museum, San Francisco, California

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