Heather Tolleson has works in private collections throughout the U.S. and Europe, and has exhibited innovative works in bronze and mixed-media, earning numerous awards and grants for this promising young artist.
For Heather, creativity has always been an essential part of life. Battling illness during her teenage years, Heather utilized her innate artistic talents as an escape from chronic pain, "I was bedridden for much of my youth, creating a world in absence of external stimuli." The artist's work is often stripped of color, relying on simplified and abstracted forms as a reflection of that missing stimuli. "Art was a form of escape, a wordless form of emotional damage-control and eventual healing." What started out a solace for a young girl would become a powerful form of communication for an artist, "For me it is impossible to separate life and art."
Isolation plays heavily into the work of an artist creating for so many years herself in isolation. "The installation works are an opportunity for me to deal with my history, I am creating an environment that is haunting, ghostlike, and highly symbolic. I think of the environments I create as a kind false memory for the viewer, ephemeral, intangible-- the experience is mine, but the memory we share." Heather's installations utilize humble materials re-envisioned and often used in unusual ways, challenging the boundaries of what that material can withstand, a fitting metaphor for an artist who thrives on challenge. "I'm always pushing the material and myself, I'm always learning, challenging my own skill and creativity-- it keeps the process interesting...vital."
In addition to mixed-media installations, Heather works prolifically in bronze, a material she uses in installations and freestanding works. Utilizing a unique process she created, Heather infuses this traditional sculptural material with a sense of fragility and spontaneity. "I see the Bronzeworks as spontaneous outgrowths of life caught still in an eternal moment of becoming: frozen, timeless, exquisite. These are self-willed forms distorted in their isolation, thriving without nourishment or teleological aim, and in this they are beautiful."
Heather trained extensively as a painter through the Austin Museum of Art, studying under talented artists such as Sydney Yeager, Jennifer Balkan, and Will Klemm, before turning her growing passion for experimentation toward sculpture. Heather studied at the Sculpture Academy, Schoen Studios, and Atelier 3-D, where she interned before later becoming a partner in the Sculpture School. Heather went on to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and in Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. Still a partner in Atelier 3-D, Heather now teaches Mold Making and Reproductions for the school and serves as Artistic Director for Art On The Way, an arts non-profit she helped develop in 2008.