Heath West


"Making art benefits the soul — it's an expressive metaphysical and philosophical process. I can't think of any dream gigs other than making art all of the time. I suppose being a professional traveler would be nice, but it'd be hard to feel productive while on holiday all of the time."

teal/orange
2014
plastic screening, reflective fabric, aluminum mesh, stain on wood stretcher bars
28 x 18 in.

INTRO:

As an autodidact, Heath constantly pushes the materials he uses while teaching himself new skills, in addition to exploring challenges of the mind. When speaking of critical thought and intuition, "...they feel like something that has been accumulating over time through experience, and will continue to evolve and refine." He has recently transitioned from using primarily digital methods to analog, material-based ones. I first came across Heath's work on Tumblr and found it to be really captivating. It was fun to pick his brain and learn more about his thought-provoking work.

DAILY PROCESS:

Heath is a voracious reader and finds the daily practice to be an imperative part of his artistic process. "My daily, never-ending research keeps me on track. There's so much happening in the art world today (yes, the rest of the world, too), that the fuel to keep going and pushing things is always there." 

He works on art everyday, but he is creating a weekly habit of taking one day off to recharge and refocus. When we initially spoke, his most recent adventure was a trip to Dallas with a friend. They visited The Power Station, Dallas Contemporary and the Kimbell Art Museum. "It felt nice to be away from home and work for just a short time, but I was ready to get back to it that evening when I returned home."

CURRENT WORK:

Heath's latest work focuses on the use of screens, both in a material and conceptual sense.

clear black yellow
2014
plastic screening, clear plastic, iridescent plastic, stain on wood stretcher bars
36 x 24 in.

"Screens are everywhere — computer screens, mobile phone screens, tablet screens, kiosk screens, screens in a car, screens in an airplane — it never ends. We see our world through our individual screens, where meaning is filtered (screened) content. Screens display information, color, and have socio-spatial relationships with time and light."

pink baby blue
2014
plastic screening, reflective fabric, aluminum mesh, stain on wood stretcher bars
28 x 18 in.

"There are degrees of opacity due to the density of the warp and weft of folds within the system. Some screens absorb light, others reflect it. Transparency is literal and phenomenal, as in between spaces illuminate intersecting layers of exposed material, multiplying edges, spaces, qualities."

GEOGRAPHY:

The setting for his studio is a 1920's space with hardwood floors, high ceilings and tall windows. It doubles as his home and workspace so there is a lot of overlap. "Most of the time my kitchen table is covered with work, which displaces me when it's time to eat." When he needs to step away from the work and gather his thoughts, a bike ride usually does the trick.

"The root of my work goes back to when I was a visiting student at the University of Applied Arts, in Vienna. Living in Europe for a full year was a transformative experience. This was 2006, and I remember a studio project we were working on in pairs; I was pushing these folded forms at an urban scale (at a much smaller scale in model, of course). I was researching a lot about Peter Eisenman's architecture, and I was reading everything by Gilles Deleuze I could get my hands on.  The combination of philosophy, architecture, art history, and what's currently happening in contemporary art world have had the greatest impact on my work."

MATERIALS:

Heath buys the majority of his materials at Texas Art Supply and finds that they have more than enough options to experiment with. He uses his blog to document process, research and finished work. "With iPhones and other portable computing devices, I find the blog to be the most effective when it comes to documenting, sharing, and accessing information."

pink baby blue
2014
detail

clear black yellow
2014
detail

PERSPECTIVE ON DIGITAL:

Like most thriving, working artists, Heath finds that digital tools present a wealth of platforms and opportunities to create and share work. "I think digital tools are having a profound effect (for the good!) on the art world. But of course, it's what you do with the tools that counts."

"Sara Cwynar has a great process of scanning images like puzzle pieces and putting them back together again at exaggerated scales. It's a variation on, 'what can this thing do for me? vs. what can I do with it?' that can incorporate the accident as an opportunity. Never forget the accident as an operative method."

Heath clearly does his homework. He immerses himself in research, but also values the experience of seeing contemporary art in physical spaces. With so many venues and platforms for artistic voices, Heath considers the work of editors important. It is also essential to self-edit and think critically about what one sees on an individual basis.

MIXED MEDIA:

Heath's interest in art history significantly influences his work. The specific periods he enjoys most are: Contemporary, Minimalism, Color Field, Futurism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism and Capitalist Realism.

For thought-provoking articles, he recommends:

Landscapes of Change: Boccioni's "Stati d'animo" as a General Theory of Models by: Sanford Kwinter

Grids by: Rosalind Krauss

For some of his song suggestions, check out this playlist!

For more of Heath's work, check out his website and blog. He also has a show coming up in New York City so stay tuned if you're in the area!

untitled (tarp/mesh)
2014
tarp, aluminum screening, plastic screening
30 x 24 in.