Artist Valerie Hegarty Exhibition Opens
Campus Cutouts, a site-specific installation by Drew’s Mellon artist-in-residence, opens April 22.
Valerie Hegarty, Drew’s Mellon artist-in-residence, lives across the street from the Brooklyn Museum, where one of her pieces is displayed in the American wing.
Hegarty’s work will soon appear on the Drew University campus in Madison, New Jersey. “Campus Cutouts” is a site-specific installation located in a large, wood-paneled room in Brothers College, with an arched ceiling, originally used as a chapel.
“The back wall of the room will look like an excavation site revealing different layers of Drew University’s architecture and history. I am planning to create the illusion of concentric holes cut into the back wall with foamcore, paper, paint and glue. It will appear that the cuts will be moving back through different strata of walls and back in time,” said Hegarty. “Mead Hall will be referenced with one of its exterior windows with green shutters along with the interior of its front hall including the parquet floor. The focal point of the excavation will reveal the portrait of Daniel Drew.”
As the Mellon artist-in-residence, Hegarty is also co-teaching a class on environmental art with Lisa Jordan, assistant professor of environmental studies and sustainability, part of the programming around Drew’s Andrew W. Mellon Arts and the Common Good grant. The three-year grant sponsors the artist residency together with student and faculty research and public programs that take an interdisciplinary approach to the arts and connect them to the theme of the “common good.” Hegarty said, “I also organized a symposium with three speakers who work at the intersection of art and science. It allowed students to understand how people can work between the two disciplines.”
Hegarty studied in Vermont, California and Chicago before settling down in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn. Her piece in the Brooklyn Museum, “Fallen Bierstadt,” made of paint, paper, glue, wire and wood, was inspired by the work of the 19th-century landscape painter Albert Bierstadt. Hegarty was drawn to the way artists of his era depicted vast expanses of wilderness as an expression of “Manifest Destiny,” the doctrine that it was the destiny of the United States to expand its territory over the whole of North America and enhance its political, social and economic influences.
The canvas appears to have decayed, as if eaten by ravages of nature. Students from Drew’s “Museums and Society” class and their professor, Rita Keane, met Hegarty at the museum to study “Fallen Bierstadt,” forging links between disciplines and encouraging students to think about significant political, social and environmental issues.