Today we head Inside the Studio with Heather Allen Hietala who I met in Asheville earlier this year. I had seen her work online and just really felt compelled to meet her based upon her vast career of mixed media and fiber art. Heather graciously invited/agreed to have me come see her amazing studio space. Heather will be showing her work at Blue Spiral Gallery in Asheville as a part of an upcoming show, Natural Order. Her work combines ceramics, found objects, fiber and other mixed media and I encourage anyone in the area to go and see her work in person! I’m thrilled to share Heather studio organizing tips since she has quite a large variety of materials to keep sorted and stored. These photo’s are not styled in any way, in fact the visit was totally unplanned and spontaneous so this is typical of what his working studio looks like on an average day.
The idea for the Inside the Artist Studio series began while attending an art retreat where I curiously observed the differences in the creative cycle of order and chaos and what that looks like for different individuals. I’m very interested in sharing how organizing affects the artist’s creative process. Some systems and order are vital to our creative PLAY and learning to find a balance that works to enhance your creativity is what I hope to share with you through these interviews.
Interview and Studio Sneak Peek Part I
HKPS::What age did you suspect or know you were an artist?
HAH::As long as I can remember I have enjoyed working with my hands, being creative in some manner. I feel the artistic path chose me.
HKPS::What mediums do you work with and are there specific tools or materials you find challenging to keep organized or locate when you need to use them?
HAH::I currently work in a wide variety of materials and techniques; cloth, paper, wire, gut, clay, and now natural materials from my garden. I have 3 different studios geared for different materials. I often combine a number of different materials in a piece and so the materials and tools move around the different studio…There are designated places where the tools are to go back to…the tools for working with wire and books return to their spot in the book and wire studio, textiles and string and now natural materials are in the central teaching studio and clay is the studio in the converted garage. I often focus on one or a couple of materials when working towards an invitational exhibition like the upcoming Blue Spiral 1 exhibition focused on nature.
This exhibition: “Natural Order” is providing me the impetus for me to explore a new direction. I am a permaculture gardener and live a lifestyle where I am very aware of my footprint, of eating local, supporting the slow food movement and local businesses in general. I use rain barrels to water my garden. In my garden I have a number of fruit trees that I prune every year thus in addition to cherries, apples, pears and dates they provide me with a renewable material.
HKPS:: Where do you make your art, how big is your studio and how long have you been in this space?
HAH::I purchased my house 5 years ago. Over the past five years I have worked on creating different studios. I have fixed up two rooms in the basement, a small one with a window as the bookmaking and wire workspace and a larger room that is the textile/natural material workspace. Now that I have begun teaching workshops in my studio it is my teaching space as well. I transformed my single car garage into a workspace for clay, as I will not let the clay dust into my living space.
Heather Allen Hietala’s Studio Part I
For all of Heathers Studio Shots see the Flickr Album
HKPS::How many projects are you usually working on at once? Is this due to space constraints, creative process, organizing systems or other influences?
HAH::Now that I have 3 studios/work areas I can work on a number of projects at once. The different spaces are conducive to different methods of working…the enclosed single car garage studio has an outside entrance and cement floor so it is the official clay and messy workspace. When I am working on a big project like this upcoming exhibition at Blue Spiral I, I used the garage studio for working with the green branches, and focused the finishing of the work in the basement studios. Now I am sanding and priming the presentation panels outside and in the garage studio. My creative process is very fluid and now that I am so blessed to have multiple work areas, they are all involved in whatever I am doing.
HKPS::When you began working in this space did you plan any systems for the overall set up or did you let things evolve organically? How did past studio spaces or systems influence this space?
HAH::I have always let my art evolve organically and will continue to as I evolve as an artist. I have bits and pieces of old equipment from past studio spaces and new equipment built for my current studio spaces. Working with natural materials is a new addition to my repertoire and so I am in the process of trying to figure out new storage systems.
HKPS::Is making art your primary “job” or source of income? How much time do you spend in your studio weekly/daily?
HAH::Art making is my primary source of income. I teach workshops to create a more steady income and balance the rollercoasterness of relying on selling one’s art to make a living. As an artist I wear many hats, artist/creator, gardener nurturer and collector of materials, teacher, business person who does the applying and replying etc. I do not have a consistant schedule and so there is an ebb and flow to all of the roles depending on what is calling me creatively or what is necessary. I spend most of my time in this pursuit as my life is my work so to speak. Being currently single allows the lines of work and play to blur a bit more than when I am in a relationship. I love what I do so I love to be working/creating!
Thanks Heather, for for sharing a bit about her space and how she works in it! Next week we’ll share more about how she organizes, stores and divides up her multiple studio spaces as well as any tips she has to share. Check out Part II of the interview, and please go see more of her work on her website.