I am a mixed-media figurative artist, but I work mostly in cloth. My interest in textiles is life-long, and I persuaded my grandmother to teach me to sew on her treadle machine before I was old enough to go to school. She would hover close by, just sure I would sew through my finger. So far I haven't.
I had always planned to study art in college, but my teens proved to be tumultuous. In the wisdom of a 17-year-old, I packed up my hot curlers and a week's worth of clean underwear and ran off with my boyfriend to be a hippy. That plan had some obvious flaws. By the time my opportunity for college came around again, I had a shaky marriage and a child to support. An art career seemed out of reach.
Although my plans for pursuing an art career were put on hold, I never stopped making things. Sewing clothes for myself and my children evolved into designing and making church paraments and art quilts. About fifteen years ago I discovered art dolls, and was immediately hooked. I bought every book I could find on the subject, and have been privileged to take classes from some of the country's most accomplished figurative artists. At the age of sixty I began making art full-time. I am a very different artist now than I would have been at twenty. I favor hand-dyed and vintage textiles. Petticoats, handkerchiefs, and bits of old curtains show up in my work. I am experimenting with natural dyes, some of which I grow myself. The hair on my figures comes from my angora goats, Ashleigh, Andrew, Marigold, Rueben, and Gracie.
My primary goal in developing each piece is to capture an emotion. Inspiration usually comes from places and times in my own life...the restlessness I felt as a girl growing up in the rural south, and the questions and self-doubt I felt as I grew away from that place. While the pieces are created from my story, I find that they often remind people of their own. A poem that I wrote a few years ago says it best:
The Girls Within
You look right through us in the checkout line
Old women made invisible by thick waists, drooping breasts, sensible shoes.
"Do you have any coupons ma'am?"
But we have our secrets!
We are the girls who danced barefoot on the beach under the stars
Who outraged our mothers, had affairs, and swam with sharks.
Yes, we have our secrets!
And so we smile, standing in the checkout line, holding our coupons.
-Ann Hord-Heatherley, 2009