Heather D. Freeman

Artist Statement


"Curler macerates ineffectually." These are the three "keywords" I asked an online random word generator to determine for me. I don't know what macerate means, so Dictionary.com informs me: "[macerate]: to soften or separate into parts by steeping in a liquid." Ew. But apparently the curler doesn't do this very well. And I'm going to assume the curler here is a sportsperson, not a hairdressing accessory. So the curling stone is not a pile of mush, that's good news.

I went through this process because, honestly, I'm not very sure that my art is New Media. I hoped that developing my keywords this way might imply a new media inclination in my statement. Let's see if this works. In terms of media, my work consists of digital prints that lately, I rework with traditional media. I also create videos and animations that conceptually volley off of these prints. And I teach "digital media" courses, courses grounded primarily in software. But "New Media" to me seems a vaster thing. Maybe I'm a more a "Creative Software" artist. If painter._tool = paint, then creativeSoftwarePackages._tool = creativeSoftwarePackager. Uh, or Packer. I'll just call myself a Packer then, Greenbay can lay claim to me too, that's fine.

And I don't think my concepts are very "New Media"-esque either. I'm interested in the intersections of science and mythology, but neither one on its own per se. I'm not interested in the cultural and political implications of the Internet... but I am interested in exploring the Internet as the Mysterious Forest in which the Hero gets lost to find his Demons.

But I am also not a "traditional" artist. I don't think I know too many of those anymore; I'm not sure how I even feel about that. I know lots of painters who shoot video and sculptors who work in CAD. I know illustrators who go from Photoshop© to Chartpak© and ceramists who swear by Lazertran©. But the painter still calls herself, fundamentally, "a painter, and there's a great deal of pride there and at the same time humility to the history of her media. I say I'm a "New Media" artist and I feel like a charlatan. Because to me, I'm not "New" enough. And if I say I'm a "digital artist", I feel a little more at home, but then the geographer I'm talking to asks me if I animate stuff like what they did in "Antz" and I have to backpedal myself into oblivion.

So now I just say I'm an artist. And that feels about right. I'm okay with gold leafing into my digital prints, Martha Stewart be damned. And I'm okay with frame-by-framing my way through a Flash animation because, damn-it, I like how it looks, thinks and feels. And I can bow myself to media past, present and future without supposing my place in my own historiography. I just have too much respect for media, categorically, to pre-suppose myself a "New" media artist or an "Old" media artist.

So if my overriding philosophy of art is the stone, and my potential audiences are the ice, then yes, perhaps my curler is macerating ineffectually. It's ineffectual, because the stone of my creative practice was never unified to begin with.

Heather D. Freeman Bio

Heather D. Freeman received BA in Fine Arts and German Studies from Oberlin College in 1993 and her MFA in Studio Art from Rutgers University in 2000. After a brief flirtation with advertising and adjuncting, Freeman continued her research at the University of Kentucky as Assistant Professor of New Media in the College of Fine Arts. In fall 2005 she became Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and the RCID PhD Program at Clemson University. Freeman is currently Assistant Professor of Digital Media at the University of North Carolina - Charlotte. Her work is regularly exhibited nationally and has appeared in international exhibitions in Canada, Cuba, Germany, Hungary and Sweden.