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Daniel Heyman

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Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring

In May, the Crisp-Ellert and Flagler College will welcome Philadelphia-based artist Daniel Heyman. The exhibition, the artist’s first in Florida, will include four large-scale self-portraits as well as a group of gouache portraits from the artist’s “Military Assault” series.

The museum will host a walkthrough with the artist on May 3 at 4 p.m., followed by a reception from 5 to 9 p.m. in conjunction with Art Walk. The exhibition will continue through June 14.

Over the past several years, Heyman has focused on several portrait series that deal with subjugated and socially ostracized groups, such as former Abu Ghraib prisoners, new immigrants to the U.S., and African American fathers who are attempting to piece their lives together after stints in jail.  Heyman conveys these individuals’ experiences as unmediated as possible, often finishing the portraits in the amount of time the interview takes, and interweaving passages directly from the subjects’ into the composition of each work. The effects of these methods produce dynamic portraits that provide a startling and often disturbing window into the disrupted lives of those who society has cast off. Heyman’s newest series of portraits document the experiences of both male and female veterans who have been sexually assaulted during their time in service.

In the spring of 2010, Heyman was asked to participate in an exhibition of artist self-portraits at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts Museum. Eager to take a rest from making work that depicts larger societal problems, Heyman took up the offer, which resulted in four self-portraits reflective of the seasons. While all highly personal, the artist chooses various points of departure for each of these works, and displays an acumen and curiosity for a variety of printmaking techniques. The first completed work in the series is “Summer: Artist Sleeps,” in which the artist depicts himself barefoot and languishing on a hammock, facing the viewer but in a blissful state of ignorance: asleep. In this work, Heyman both literally and figuratively takes respite from his previous series, shutting his eyes to the outside world.

“Fall: Artist Eats Pho,” reveals the artist indulging in a bowl of pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) in one of Philadelphia’s noodle shops, after being away from the city all summer. This work combines the techniques of intaglio, aquatint, and dry point with a gouache monotype printed from 9 copper etching plates. Not able to abandon his awareness of social ills entirely, Heyman includes a concurrent narrative, a portrait of the Vietnamese immigrant Hung Nguyen along with a recounting of his horrific journey to the United States as a boat refugee.

Perhaps the most ambitious, “Winter: Artist Engages,” is a triptych made up of a grid of 70 etchings and woodcuts on plaster tiles, measuring a monumental 84 x 168 inches overall. The center panel, a double nude with multiple arms and appendages inspired by an 8th Century Japanese deity, investigates the idea of multiples being contained in a single entity through the “complex contradictions of middle age.”

Finally, in “Spring: Artist Contemplates an Inheritance” the artist sits in a chair facing away from us, a small ivory sculpture in hand.  This ivory piece was handed down to Heyman by his grandfather.  Heyman claims: “I have known these objects longer than any other specific works of art, and as such they represent for me a link with my past – a kind of inheritance through which a door to understanding art and the magic of objects and images were first opened to me.”  In this fitting finale to the series, Heyman reflects a “sense of continuity and connection” during the season of growth, renewal and rebirth.

Heyman earned an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania and is a cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College. He has had recent solo museum exhibitions at the Laband Gallery at Loyola Marymount University, CA, List Gallery at Swarthmore College, PA, and the Zilkha Gallery at Wesleyan University, CT. Heyman has been included in significant group exhibitions throughout the U.S., including at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Rhode Island School of Design Art Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Art. His work can be found in the collections of the Arkansas Art Center, Princeton University Museum of Art, Yale University Art Gallery and the Baltimore Museum of Art, among many others. Heyman has heldmany artist residencies, including those at the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, and was honored with a Pew Fellowship in the Arts in 2009 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in fine arts in 2010.

He currently teaches at Rhode Island School of Design, Princeton University, University of the Arts, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and lives and works in Philadelphia.

"Self-Potraits for All Seasons," by Kara Pound, Folio Weekly, May 1 - 7, 2013

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