Gail Heidel is an Artist, Arts Administrator, Curator and Educator who engages with the culture and history of NYC to activate communities with multi-disciplinary public art and educational projects. Recent public art projects include Free Arts Brooklyn: The Eastern Parkway Project, Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Knit Knit Bomb Bomb, Sculpture in the Courtyard, Pelham Art Center, Pelham, NY. Community-based festival productions include BLITZ, The South Bronx Culture Trail Festival 2017: Take the Green Train, The South Bronx Culture Trail Fusion Festival 2016: Lookin' Up In The Boogie Down and Prospect Heights Music & Arts Festival.
Heidel received an M.F.A. from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2008, completed a post-baccalaureate program in Studio Art at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2004, and earned a B.F.A. from the University of Connecticut, Storrs in 1995. She has been written about in The New York Times, Time Out New York, Ceramic Art and Perception, Ceramics Monthly, Ceramics Ireland, Pittsburgh City Papers and the Pittsburgh Tribune. She is the Manager of Performing and Visual Arts at Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education in the South Bronx. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Artist Statement: Ceramic Installations
Urbanism, particularly how the contemporary condition of interconnectivity, the agency of the individual and the theory of emergence effect the built environment is the focus of my ceramic based practice. To address these concepts, I create research-based installations to highlight the importance of place and the living history of the site. These installations are comprised of an architectural vocabulary of press molded ceramic multiples and common building materials with a rough-hewn aesthetic. Historical relevance is placed on the use of ceramics as a building block of cities in its brick and tile form. The aesthetic choice is made to reference our aged infrastructure. My construction process is labor intensive and repetitive, echoing the mass production of buildings and the temporary construction sites that leave our cities in a constant state of flux. I investigate issues that arise in cities such as: urban development, eminent domain, access to private property, red lining, sprawl and subdivision of land. I also address suggested solutions achieved through responsible master plans. By loosely defining the outcome for an installation, I allow an emergent aspect to develop. Depending on the work, the viewer is invited to help install on site, enter a construction site, deconstruct or reorganize an installation with intent to encourage a sense of agency that is often times missing in the built environment. My work promotes ground up solutions to urban planning rather than top down decisions by requesting the viewer's participation and granting access to the work.