Heidi Schwegler

Slipping Underwater, 2009

The first time I heard of Heidi Schwegler, I was living in Adelaide, South Australia, and doing research for one of my metalsmithing classes. Now I can't remember what project it was for, or what I was searching for exactly, but I found a write up of her mouthpieces, as well as another installation, and was amazed. I recall being enthralled with the use and creation of forms that were wearable, yet not traditional jewelry. At that point in time, the internet was established, but not the booming mechanism it is now. It was still difficult to do decent research on it.

Plastic Mouthpieces
Resin, nickel
3 x 3 x 2”
photographer: Bill Bachhuber

Later, when my return to the U.S. was imminent, I stumbled across Heidi Schwegler's name while researching two institutions to finish my degree at, and discovered that she was a professor at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. Although my decision between institutions was based more on my experience during my tour (the kind of community, customer service, environment, and metals facilities), I have since been eternally grateful to be able to work with Schwegler. In addition to being an extremely motivated and unrelenting artist, who has the ability to explore a variety of materials, techniques, and technologies, Schwegler is also an incredible teacher. Kind and patient, yet unforgiving, Schwegler is the kind of teacher that your parents told you you would be grateful for later in life (and they were right).

In the last few years, Schwegler has produced a number of bodies of work that explore a variety of materials and forms, as well as media. From "the body transformed" series, through to the most recent "slipping underwater" (on display at the Hallie Ford Museum), alternative materials have consistently taken the stage in her work, ranging from plastics and rubbers to plaster and wax, to simply transforming an alternative material or found object into metal, creating a whole new object. And although the work is presented as a series or a body of work, each individual piece can often stand on its own and be equally relevant, such as in "antistatic" and "slipping underwater". In addition to this range of materials, Schwegler has also utilized print, photography, and film in her work--the latter usually documenting a performance piece. My favorite, by far, is the documentation of her performance piece during "utopia sighs"(click below).

film still from Utopia Sighs, 5 minute dv
Videographer: Scott Tebeau

Schwegler is currently exhibiting at the Hallie Ford Museum in Salem, OR, and will also be exhibiting at the Museum of Contemporary Craft later this year. You can find more information about Heidi Schwegler, and her work, on her website.



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