Heather Stivison


Artist Biography

Heather Stivison is an award-winning visual artist whose work has been exhibited in museums, universities, and galleries across the United States and in juried shows in Europe and Asia. Her work, which often is narrative-based, spans a wide variety of 2-D disciplines, including oil, acrylic, and watercolor painting, drawing in various mediums, fiber art, and mixed-media wall art with found objects,

She currently serves as Chairman of the Board of South Coast Artists, Inc. She is an elected Signature Member of the National Association of Women Artists (NAWA) and serves on the Board of NAWA’s Massachusetts Chapter. She served as the founding president of the Dartmouth Cultural Center, and has co-chaired Dartmouth’s Local Cultural Council. Stivison is a former museum director, former president of both the New Jersey Association of Museums, and the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums.

She holds an MFA in painting from UMass Dartmouth, and is represented by Pleiades Gallery, 547 W27th Street, New York City.


The place where I am most comfortable in my drawings and paintings, is standing right on the threshold between abstraction and reality. I often paint recognizable shapes and forms, and sometimes very realistic images that hint at a narrative. These narratives often evolve from my deep connections to environmental causes and social justice issues.

However, it is the colors, forms, and overall mark-making that call to me the most. I am interested in distilling the subjective world into color form and light and seeing how brain responds, and how the visual language of my art “reads.”

There is an ebb and flow in my painting process. I begin by rapidly applying subtle color variations of paint, responding to the paint itself more than rigidly adhering to my preconceived plan. I pour translucent washes, smear thicker layers of viscose paint, scrape lines into the surface, and dab and poke at the surface with rags. When I finally pause, I realize my hands are covered with colors, my palette is a mess, rags and paper towels litter the surfaces where opened tubes and jars of paint are scattered in chaos. This is when I need to sit with the work. To be with it, live with it, to listen to what it is saying.

I find the “disrupted” reality of realism mixed with abstraction offers me new ways of responding to emotions and ideas. I tip the balance between abstraction and reality back and forth as a tool to enter into a new emotional place.


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