Gail Heidel serves as the Director of Creative Arts Programs at Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education located in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx and has been with the organization since June 2015. As Director, Heidel provides leadership for the overall Creative Arts Programs and curates culturally relevant performing arts programs, exhibitions, murals and public programs that celebrate the vibrant, diverse communities of the South Bronx.
Ms. Heidel earned an MFA in Studio Art from the University of Minnesota in 2008, completed a post-baccalaureate program at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2004 and received her BFA from the University of Connecticut in 1995. She brings to Casita Maria over twenty years of experience as an arts administrator, curator, educator and visual artist. Ms. Heidel is currently participating in NYFA’s Emerging Leaders Program 2020.
Previous positions include Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art at Hunter College, NY, NY; Director of Programs and Promotion at The Way Station, Brooklyn, NY; and Gallery and Public Program Manager at Pelham Art Center, Pelham, NY. Other organizations that she has worked for include: The Whitney Museum, American Craft Council, Greenwich House Pottery, and Clay Art Center. She’s a lifelong music aficionado, and has an insatiable curiosity for knowledge, culture and the arts. Ms. Heidel lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with her husband.
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 was the focus of my ceramic based practice which concluded in 2018. To address these concepts, I created 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 investigated issues that arise in cities such as: urban development, eminent domain, access to private property, red lining, sprawl and subdivision of land. By loosely defining the outcome for an installation, I allowed for an emergent aspect to develop. Depending on the work, the viewer was 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.