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Art Watch : Heather Hansen

Heather Hansen is our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and also worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch. 


Born in Burley (Idaho), in 1970 Heather’s journey to becoming one of the most original and sought after performance artists of contemporary art. Based out of New Orleans she works from Paros as well. Both the places of her work are completely steeped in art, music and the celebration of rhythm. There is a soulful quality in her works   

A dancer and an artist, Heather’s craft involves using charcoal to anoint her body. Then she records her movements on paper. While she moves to the rhythm of the beat, creating some of the most breathtakingly beautiful images. Leaving behind not only the charcoal, but an essence of herself, as well as the movement.

Why Heather Hansen?

Making her creations multi-layered, where the paper provides the playground for the artwork to unfold. The charcoal captures time, and the forms created are records of Hansen’s body. In her own words : “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe. To match Your nature with Nature.”

The marriage of different artforms that come together to collaborate and create and capture movement is a prized achievement of the artist as well as her gift to her audience. As she moves, she makes a lotus bloom on paper. Sometimes she creates a mandala like design. And sometimes her lines are like threads floating to pure music in water.

Hansen has had several performances in various galleries and exhibitions. She is extremely driven by the process of creation itself. She actually believes in pushing oneself to create a piece of artwork a day is to remain motivated, creative and satiated.

Speaking about her craft Hansen says – Emptying Gestures is an experiment in kinetic drawing. In this series, I am searching for ways to download my movement directly onto paper, emptying gestures from one form to another and creating something new in the process”

Creative Process

We love the concept of creating a hybrid work. In a market that is hungry for more and newer art – here is something that is truly original and completely breathtaking. For the artist she has projected that in art there are no boundaries – not even between mediums. For her the process is more important than the end result. To remain bound is to limit creativity and never finding out the possibility of creation.

She is a dancer who is one with her form. She is painting in the wind and more specifically the charcoal drawings are a encoding of what she is experiencing and projecting, and what she knows. Walking on a sandy beach and looking back, she saw the beauty of the ballet movements she was practicing, imprinted on the sand. This was the beginning of the idea for her to convert and create.

Many artists have tried to marry the elements of music, art and dance together and now with the advent of tech – lights, lasers included. But Heather’s charcoals sing their own song and tell their own story too. The symmetry she works for is often not intentional she says. For her it is a meditative form, as she submits to the way her breath moves her.

Heather Hansen says that her years of training as a Butoh dancer have made their way into the way she presents. While she was in college, her professor was a student of the great Kazuo Ohno. Heather, a self-confessed nomad, moved to Japan to study under Ohno’s son – Yoshito. Her exploration took her to Florence, Bali – where she studied, art and music – more deeply. All of her experiences are like her own quartets, that she has kept in parts of her mind and ever so often they blossom and take a new form.

The Works we Love the Most


For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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