Michael Heffernan Biography
Michael Heffernan (b. 1954) was born in Dublin, Ireland, and received a scholarship to Dublin’s National College of Art and Design (NAD) to study painting. After his foundation year, he entered the School of Design and graduated in 1974. Upon graduation, he won a national design scholarship award to attend graduate school for an MA in Industrial Design at Birmingham Polytechnic, England. Today, Michael works from his studio at the Artisan Resource Center in Marietta, GA. His works include abstract and contemporary landscape paintings, working in oil and mixed media. Michael has exhibited in several juried group exhibits, and galleries in the Southeastern United States, Dublin, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. His work has been sold throughout the United States and sold to private collectors. www.michaelheffernanart.com
Michael Heffernan returned to painting full-time in June 2018 after surviving a heart attack while cycling on the Silver Comet Trail in northwestern Georgia, the trauma of which led to his reevaluation of life’s priorities and subsequent full-time dedication to his art. In June 2020 he began writing poetry to recall childhood memories and life in Ireland as a coping mechanism in a time of uncertainty. The intensity of this focus eventually led to the works that are on display in Wayfinding.
Wayfinding, a solo painting, and poetry exhibition by Irish painter Michael Heffernan display a body of work created through the pandemic years that explores the relationship between mark-making and poetic language. This exhibition pairs abstract and contemporary landscape paintings with accompanying poetry, written by Heffernan, for an immersive experience that connects and moves.
Individual poems are showcased next to their corresponding paintings and available as audio recordings read by Heffernan himself, creating a dynamic sensory experience.
Artist Talk, February 2023, part of my solo exhibition “Wayfinding” at Marietta Cobb Museum of Art, Marietta GA.
While I don’t consider myself a poet by any means, I find it is now often the starting point of conceptual sources of ideas that inform my abstract work particularly. From the pandemic right up to today, writing is an integral part of my process, same as building stretcher bars, stretching, and preparing my canvas, or building wooden cradled panels, it is part of my workflow and early conceptualization of the work.
Working on a large scale provides another dimension for expression, and as I progress there is a consolidation between landscape and abstract expressionism. I use a lot of texture in my work and feel a tactile quality and three-dimensionality in the surface with built-in layers of color, editing, removing, and adding elements is not unlike the process of writing and finding the right words to express the economy of language. In short, the synthesis of language to connect and move.
The seamless expression excites me, the search and expression of emotional connection with the viewer, providing just enough for the viewer to participate, interpret and engage in the work. I like to think I can draw the viewer into the paintings, and they discover interesting passages each time they engage with them, especially over time. I strive for consistency in my visual vocabulary that I continue to extrapolate and explore as I progress in my obsession with the materiality of paint and its boundless possibilities.