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Art Week DSM: Heather Whittlesey, June 22nd

Heather Whittlesey worked over seventy hours and multiple months creating the current art piece displayed at Raygun in the East Village of Des Moines. They used primarily recycled materials, with 70% of the display being recycled. Raygun donated various items including old posters and books. Heather shared that their desire to recycle while creating has increased more and more as their artistic career has developed.

The opening reception for this display will be held at Raygun on June 22nd, from 5 – 7 pm. Heather will also be selling a variety of pottery they have created as well.

I had the opportunity to meet with Heather as they were building their work. Please read more about Heather below!

Name: Heather Whittlesey

Pronouns: They/Them

Describe yourself & the work you do:

The work that I do is filled with life and energy.  Regardless of the subject matter, you’re going to see artwork that goes above and beyond. My perseverance is a tell tell quality. When you see the work you’ll think “Wow! That took a lot of time”.  Some of my smaller sculptures are very cerebral in nature. I will talk about social interactions influenced by gender and class and I also like to poke fun at politics, all sides.

Why do you think the artistic community in Iowa is so important?

Des Moines has great potential for local artists. Des Moines has done well in displaying established contemporary artists. The feel I get for it is sleek, polished and current. This influence is really important to inspire local artists to contribute to our unique artistic identity. There is also so much space here in Iowa that big projects are feasible if an artist were to dream that big.

What do you think is important for our community to do better when it comes to supporting local artists and musicians? 

This is a good question. I operate on both sides of this dichotomy. I have a full time office job and I operate and hustle as an artist. I think the disconnect is that because the arts are known for being incredibly passionate that there is no money associated with that. If you have a job that is fully satisfying, then you don’t need to be compensated monetarily. Then on the other hand, if you have a job that is arbitrary and contributes nothing positive to your mental stability, you’ll need financial support to offset that. There is also the low hanging stereotype that artists are lazy or unconcerned and not productive – and therefore not worthy to do business with. But then, when you look around, there certainly could be more creative commerce! I think when an audience sees/feels/jives with confident creative people, they will have more faith in their experience with the environment and then feel comfortable with supporting it.

How can our community lift you up and support you?

I like to have at least one big art show a year – I will have the artwork on display and then I’ll provide an inventory of pottery or glass for sale. The best form of support is to show up to the show! I always like to cater as well. I have a rule of thumb: If you ask people to come out of their homes, you must have food to give them.

People can always purchase pottery as well, but this aspect is secondary to coming out and being active with your community.

Who else do you think we should lift up? Give someone a shoutout!

Ohhhhhh! Rachel Buse – She is wonderful behind the scenes with DSM Art Week 2019, as well as a heavy hitting artist.

What makes you magic?

I’ve never been inherently good at any medium I’ve chosen. I’ve always had to work hard to produce work at a professional level.  So my magic is definitely the drive not to give up.

Details of your event?

The opening reception is on June 22nd, from 5 – 7 pm. You can see the work through November.

Where can we access your work?

Raygun: 505 E Grand Ave Ste 103, Des Moines, IA 50309.

What is your favorite part of Art Week DSM?

Creating community with my fellow artists that are serious and committed to the development of the creative culture of Des Moines. It’s a time where we put the other aspects of our life on pause to share what we have with others.

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