Even the most basic visual elements can offer incredible depth and beauty when presented through the right lens. And this lens is front and center in the current solo show of mixed media paintings by Heather Hartman, “Spare Room,” currently on view at We-Ho’s Channel To Channel gallery.
Through a skillful combination of material, Hartman creates the effect that her work is making a light of its own, softly filtered through obscuring veils. Window VI offers suggestions of a curtain pulled against the sunrise while Pool IV recreates the effect of bright light reflecting from a body of water, for instance. When viewed as a collection, the pieces are each a unique but unified study on light, that most crucial element of visual art, close up, pared down and played with.
“Hartman’s work combines paper softly appearing behind polyester mesh to create the illusion of light glowing through the periphery of life,” according to the gallery. “Her interests lie in capturing the soft, diffused glow of the Tennessee atmosphere.”
Burst VI may be the most overt and aggressive exploration of the show’s unifying element. An explosion of warmly colored bokeh — the way that a camera lens renders out-of-focus points of light as flat, bright circles — and shafts of luminescence erupt from the center. There is no recognizable figure producing this light, just a study on the visual effects of it.
“I am interested in the constant flux of the visual world and our temporary space within it,” Hartman’s artist statement reads, offering some insight into the inspiration behind works like those in “Spare Room” in particular. “Through common distortions of light, shadow and atmosphere, the familiar can become abstracted and unfamiliar. Thus — for a fleeting moment — the mundane is transformed into the sublime.”
Hartman holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Auburn University and a master’s in fine art with a concentration in painting and drawing from the University of Tennessee. Her work has been included in numerous art publications and exhibited across the country. She is currently an assistant professor of art at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City.
Channel to Channel is located at 507 Hagan Street in We-Ho.