Heather Sherman: A Conversation about Symbology

Heather Sherman received her BFA from Ringling College of Art and Design. While there she co-directed the Crossley Gallery. She is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Fine Art at New York University. When not painting, Heather works at Greene Contemporary here in New York. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Heather for ten years. I started to notice in the past year a reoccurrence of rabbits in her paintings and thought I’d ask about the symbology. Here is the story behind it:

I purchased a Netherland Dwarf rabbit a little over two years ago, on a whim. I had grown up with pets, but never one to call my own. I am extremely attached to my bunny, Silke. In fact, I feel closer to her than I do most people. Like many pet owners, I project a lot of psychological stuff onto my rabbit, like love, trust, intimacy, vulnerability, etc. These are things one would often associate with human relationships, which forces me to examine the bonds I have with people. How are they different? Are they different?

I am interested in the idea of love and how it cannot exist without fear — the fear of losing that which you love. People aquire dogs, cats, fish, etc. all the time knowing full well there is an expiration date. Why? The same can be applied to human relationships. Rabbits vary in symbolic meaning from one culture to another — luck, fecundity, playfulness, fertility, fear, etc. I have taken that symbology and made it my own as a personal iconography. Rabbits, instead of being the focus of my most recent paintings, serve as witnesses to animalistic human relationships.

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