embroidery mounted on acrylic, iPhone case
5 x 2.5 x 1.5 in. | $3,500
Heather Schulte’s work investigates the role language has in shaping perspective—the ways different modes of communication affect (and effect) meaning and value. She focuses on language as material, both in form and content: coding, translating, deconstructing, and recontextualizing words and phrases in order to disarm and slow down the process of interaction with information. Her work seeks open communication in a complex and multilayered world: to listen to and amplify hidden and silenced narratives and voices and lay ground for communal health to grow. These objects create space and time for a multitude of voices and invite the viewer to contemplate intertwined stories, histories, and possibilities.
Her process is twofold: translating text and placing the results in a particular material context. Translation highlights the form of language and slows down the process of making meaning. The use of code both obscures meaning and hides it in plain sight. Use of binary code as a visual pattern of filled or empty squares references the voices present or excluded from public spaces as well as the polarized opinions and narratives therein—a code of polarities in the structure of our communications reflected in the content of the communications themselves.
Material is meaningfully symbolic in her work. Clear acrylic references modernity and dependence on fossil fuels and derivatives— transparent plastic as a reference to climate crisis (the evidence is clear, no pun intended). It also acts as a metaphor for sight as a barrier and how dominant assumptions about the world effectively blind us to other perspectives. Her use of thread and textiles embodies personal space as well as domestic, both as acknowledgment of women’s oppression and how women have historically used their needles for subversive disobedience to cultural norms and to question the constant presence of screens and digital data within private spheres.
© Heather Schulte