DeVos Art Museum unveils new exhibit


Harrison Stine/NW

NEW EXHIBIT – Free to the public, the DeVos Art Museum is currently host to works by Lindsey Heiden (foreground) and Linda King Ferguson (background). The two artists take inspiration from the Upper Peninsula’s landscape.

Harry Stine, Assistant Features Editor

The DeVos Art Museum kicked off the semester Friday, Aug. 26 with their latest installation in the ongoing U.P. Focus exhibition series, this year featuring Linda King Ferguson and Lindsey Heiden.

The exhibition is free to the public and will continue until Nov. 4. Emily Lanctot, museum director and curator, said the exhibition series has been going on for years and intends to highlight artists who live in or are inspired by the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She added that Ferguson and Heiden were chosen for a number of reasons, including their “tenacity into research” and their focus on studio practice.

“They are both studio artists, so they spend a lot of time working in the studio,” Lanctot said. “And from that work, come to new work and new ideas.”

Echoing Lanctot’s words, both artists shared just how much work goes into creating a piece. During a Q&A session with the artists, Heiden described the studio as a “disaster zone” for her once she gets into focus, usually working on multiple projects at one time and sometimes even having to work with up to 50 pounds of clay. Ferguson described an extensive focus on the studio as well. She detailed her process as “meticulous” and “a full-time commitment,” having to paint the same layers of clean, hard-edge painting, over and over again.

Heiden also shared her creative process with the audience, displaying the collision of science, art and fantasy that make up her work. She described her pieces, mash-up sculptures of animals combined with the traits of others, as stories or fairy tales. This created a universe of sorts, with her own invented history as well as real animal genealogy behind many of the works.

Nature, and the COVID-19 pandemic, played a large role in the art that was featured. According to Lanctot, Heiden sent paintings of hybrid animals to people in order to connect with them. This included a letter explaining the package, which was filled with seeds they could plant.

Ferguson’s influences from the U.P.’s abundant sources of nature were also shown, with artwork composed of colors sourced straight from the U.P., such as the sky and leaves. With added inspiration from the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, she felt like some big questions had been raised.

“When you’re facing mass mortality, and you’re isolated and under a lockdown, at one point, I sort of ask … what should I be putting into the world under these circumstances?” Ferguson said. “And the answer that came back to me was joy.”

With a background in textiles and working in interior design, Ferguson repurposed the paint-by-patterns approach to her work, this led to sparse mosaics of color, conjuring images of nature in its rawest and most immediate form. As for what to feel when viewing them, Ferguson encouraged audiences to find their own meaning to the paintings. She found that while she follows her own ideas, others may interpret them differently, giving insight into their own context and focus.

More information on the artists is available on the DeVos Art Museum website, as well as Ferguson and Heiden’s websites.