we have a voice

Heather Lela Graham

Exhibition was on view from February 9th - March 2nd, 2010


Exhibition Description & Artist Statement

we have a voice expressed feminist ideals through the combination of ceramics and book-binding. Graham’s “little clay ladies” flourished throughout the gallery space. Each one existed as a clay sculpture, but widely varied in size from as short as a few inches in height to as tall as two feet. Within many of the ceramic pieces, Graham made space for handmade books that viewers were invited to touch, handle, and read. These books each told unique visual and short word stories of the struggles and triumphs of being a woman.

Grahams artwork celebrates feminism and is a visual representation of her matriarchal family tree. In many cultures, the ancestry of a family is traced through the female. The clay figures that make up this body of work each represent a specific woman, telling her story and sharing her experiences. Some of the women have their stories willing to be read and seen by all. Some do not have their stories yet. The stories they tell could be shared by millions of women. These characters and their tales are personal, yet universal.

Quilts are a strong representation of Grahams family history. Quilts are sewn from small pieces of fabric that are not usually purchased, but found. The fabric is then carefully cut into patterns and sewn together. This is traditionally done by hand. Quilts hold a memory of the origin of the fabric. The one who created the quilt could sit and list where each of the fabrics came from: an old shirt, a party dress, curtains from her first house. Quilts create stories.

One of Grahams great grandmothers and both of her grandmothers were quilters. Graham had the fortune to have her great grandmother in her life until the 6th grade. She never had the opportunity to meet her biological grandmother, whom Graham is named after. Her last living grandmother still makes quilts to this day. These close family ties continually inspire Grahams artistic practices.

About the Artist

Heather Lela Graham was born in Asheville, NC and moved to Boone, NC to attend Appalachian State University where she received a BFA in printmaking and ceramics. She later continued attending ASU as a candidate for a certificate in Art Education. Graham has been in numerous exhibitions including ASU Art Expo, the Print Dialog Days student exhibition, the Predator and Prey exhibition in the Robert F. Gilley Recording Studio, and the Spring 2009 BFA Studio Show in the Catherine Smith Gallery at ASU. She was a recipient for the Kabatnnik Memorial Scholarship and the 2008 Art Expo Library Purchase Award. When not in the studio, Graham enjoys cooking, being with her family and pets, and sitting in coffee shops for hours. She collects plastic sharks and hats.

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