Meet the MFAs: Heather Bause
As Blaffer prepares to open the University of Houston School of Art 38th Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition on April 8 (reception 7-9 p.m.; member/VIP preview 6 p.m.), we’re highlighting artworks by each of the dozen graduating and exhibiting artists along with his or her catalog statement. First up is Heather Bause:
I create sewn paintings from sections of abstract paintings made on domestic and commercial fabrics. Specifically, I use canvas, bed sheets and drapes. I fuse the domestic with the painterly tradition of painting by staining, mopping, throwing, printing, spraying, dragging, imprinting, brushing, washing and bleaching pigments onto fabrics, drop cloths and canvases forming expressive abstract patterns. The abstraction is both improvisational and gestural, whereas sewing is concerned with combining disparate visual languages. Retinal or optical effects in the fabrics create visually compelling imagery that reinforces visual discord. The finished, stitched paintings are an attempt to imbue a balance of restraint and aggression, beauty and power.
The tools I choose to use are traditionally associated with feminine, domestic work and labor, and in context to the making of the paintings, challenge women’s traditional roles and that of motherhood. The new combinations are a metaphor for life, exposing the tense dualities inherent in being an artist, wife and mother.
The use of domestic, traditional, nostalgic and feminine imagery as subject matter challenges traditional cultural values and morals that define a woman’s domestic role. In my paintings I am addressing this history and building my own personal value system. I ask where our shared American feminine role models stem from and shed light on how idealized versions of perfection deleteriously contribute to American society in general, including the emotional, economical and psychological after-effects on families.