Kelly Heaton (b. 1972) is an American artist who is fascinated by electricity: its role as the spark of life, the synapses of consciousness, and the medium that empowers our current culture.
Trained in art and science, Heaton sees machines like organisms with anatomy, lifespan, and maybe even soul. Conversely, she cautions us to stay connected with nature lest our dependence on technology be our demise.
In her diverse portfolio of artworks, Heaton combines traditional media with electronics to portray various facets of our modern condition: mortality, psychology, spirituality, politics, culture, and the environment. Some of Heaton's art contains functional electronic circuits that produce naturalistic sound, light, and movement. Other works anthropomorphize electronic components, or merge people with electronic circuits to create a hybrid identity.
Heaton's art is characterized by complex narratives that weave together various bodies of work. Reflection Loop (2001) tells the story of an animatronic toy, Furby, as it undergoes a radical re-engineering from children’s plaything to physical pixel in an interactive artwork. Live Pelt (2003) documents the unnerving transformation of Tickle Me Elmo dolls as they are purchased from strangers on eBay, dismembered, rewired, assembled into a giggling coat and resold through a New York art gallery. The Parallel Series (2004 - 2012) presents a hybridization of painting and electrical engineering in multi-dimensional artworks that evoke natural imagery, sound and animated light. Pollination (2015) is a fertile exchange between bees, imagination, art, and audience that demonstrates the interconnectedness of all things. Heaton is currently exploring a new genre of portraiture in which human subjects are hybridized with electronics to reveal their psychological state (link to The Human Electric).
Heaton's work has been featured in exhibitions in the United States and internationally, including the ADAA Art Show, The Science Gallery at Trinity College, the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, and three solo shows at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, NYC.
Her work has been reviewed in numerous publications, including The New York Times, New York Magazine, NY Arts, The Village Voice, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Hyperallergic, Artnet.com and Art das Kunstmagazin. She is the recipient of grants from Creative Capital, LEF Foundation, Council for the Arts at MIT, and the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program. In 2001, she won the L'Oreal Promotion Prize in the Art and Science of Color for her research with physical pixels. She has been awarded residencies at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies, Duke University and Art Interactive. Kelly Heaton received her Bachelor of Art degree from Yale University in 1994, and her Master of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000. Kelly Heaton is represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, NY.