My work considers the inheritance and creation of human perception over the course of time. Utilizing text and textiles, two ancient and evolving forms of technology, I engage the dynamic relationship between individual and cultural interpretation and expression—how they inform and shape each other for good and ill. Language and cloth use resources within (the form and resonance of the physical body, breath and movement) and around us (physical space and materials sourced from the world) to connect and individuate, interfacing our relationships to ourselves, each other, and the wider world.
My work is deliberately interactive and centers human agency. By isolating phrases and words from context, creating layers of letterforms and pixelated patterns, I invite care as viewers consider various interpretations. I reconfigure forms of communication into visual binary code, questioning what is stated, encoded, suppressed, silenced, or omitted in the structures and systems that undergird information exchanges. Textile work is slow, as is decoding, resists fast paced digital exchanges, and provides time to ponder multi-faceted and nuanced social interactions.
These pieces consider reproductive rights from many points of view and various contexts. They do not provide answers, but pose open-ended questions in which subjects and objects are not necessarily clear— placing the onus on the viewer to fill them in. The context shifts as individuals move around, turn, and interact with each piece; words appear and disappear, codes alter and add to text, and a blank prescription pad collects ongoing responses from visitors. As a mother who has nearly died in childbirth, and whose partner is a healthcare provider, I have first-hand experience with the complicated nature of receiving and providing care. This work expands the conversation around reproductive health care, revealing the vast implications of restricting access to comprehensive reproductive rights.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Heather Schulte received a BFA in 2003 from the University of Nebraska, and spent the following 13 years supporting her partner’s career, bringing 3 people into this world, experiencing multiple medical traumas, and moving no less than 7 times. She spent much of that time honing her skills in textiles and teaching private lessons, all while raising children and trying to maintain a semblance of stability. In 2016 she started formally pursuing my art career.
Schulte’s work analyzes the intersection of personal and public forms of language and communication, exposing complex physical and emotional responses to what lives behind the shape of letters, codes, or materials. Her pieces invite viewer interaction through touch, deciphering code, or physical movement in space. Her community projects are collaborative works that create art alongside the public: working together to interpret current and historical events and providing a platform for those directly affected to share their stories.
Schulte has exhibited throughout Colorado at numerous galleries and contemporary art spaces, such as the Denver Art Museum and RedLine Contemporary Art Center, as well as galleries and museums nationally and internationally. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Denver Post, Fiber Art Now, the Surface Design Journal, and independent magazines. Her projects have been featured in numerous podcasts, news articles, and other publications, and awarded numerous grants. In 2022, Stitching the Situation, a collaborative embroidery project documenting the impact of COVID-19 in the US, received a competitive stipend award as a “‘Promising Practices Case Study’ to facilitate field-wide learning and encourage the uptake of WE-Making [a framework for Arts & Creative Placemaking] in communities across the country,” from the University of FL Center for Arts in Medicine.
© Heather Schulte