Heidi Neff was raised in the Chicago area and has lived in eight states. She earned her MFA in painting from the University of Iowa in 2002 and her BFA in painting from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1994. Heidi Neff currently exhibits at the Amos Eno Gallery, an artist-run gallery in the 56 Bogart Building in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. She teaches painting and drawing at Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland, where she lives with her husband, Paul Chuffo, and their children, Max and Maya.
My work consistently explores the ongoing search for moments of connection and spiritual or physical ecstasy.
Technological devices profoundly change our most private experiences. In my current body of work, visceral colors and textures punctuate sleek blue surfaces reminiscent of glowing screens. Fleshy and painterly explosions disrupt calm glossy surfaces. Paint is a metaphor for that which is messy, physical and real in an increasingly screen obsessed world.
About Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Fire and Ice, inspired by Robert Frost’s poem of the same name, is an apocalyptic vision of the present state of political divisiveness in the United States. Set up as two separate rooms with paintings covering the walls and painted ceilings, Fire and Ice explores the destructive powers of both fiery passion and icy hatred. The “fire” room is devoted to liberals, the ice room to conservatives. This choice has mostly to do with my own political preferences, but fire and ice are to be seen as equally dangerous. It is the growing schism in our country that worries me the most. This work was made in 2011, but is tragically even more relevant today. I am interested in exhibition opportunities for an updated/reworked version of this piece.
About the Illuminated Manuscripts
Through sources such as CNN breaking news, I get constant reminders that people are dying in wars and natural disasters alongside celebrity gossip. Britney Spear’s latest breakdown gets equal weight as tsunami that killed over 170,000 people. My paintings based on illuminated manuscripts seek to explore and reflect this conundrum by putting Internet-based headlines and news stories within a more intimate context.
About the Church Ceiling Paintings
A Baroque painting on a cathedral ceiling and a pornographic image in a slick magazine both transport the viewer to a desired state of ecstasy, whether spiritual or sexual. The church ceiling series is paintings based on reproductions of painted cathedral ceilings. I reproduce the faux architecture and replace the figures with couples lifted from porn magazines, figures from popular culture, and personal narrative.
The most recent painting, Something is Missing, was specifically created as a response to the Goucher College’s Rosenberg Gallery space. The gallery’s permanent lights were incorporated in the helicopter searchlights. Though quite different from the earlier ceiling pieces, this piece continues the idea of human beings’ innate drive to search for something more in life.