Heather Peebles currently lives and works in Minneapolis, MN where she earned an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design.
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The focus of my practice is to educate my audience about rape culture through the reclamation of my body and mind, or identity, as a survivor of sexual violence. Specifically, in terms of body dissociation, objectification, ownership of sexuality, and mental illness. In order to translate these experiences for a viewer, I believe in promoting the agency of viewers to enact change through direct participation with my work, choice of media, and effective imagery. To engage a wide audience, I work both inside and outside the gallery; utilizing a dedication to and working knowledge of healing methods, activism, and public art to better understand myself and my community.
The subject matter of my pieces derives from a personal point of view as a survivor, but also from an array of influences, including from pop culture, political, social, and cultural issues, and from contemporary artists and activists. The perpetuation of rape myths and gender roles, along with the influence of social media on social justice issues are integral parts of research and education outside of academic sources. Readings on power, feminism, and participatory work from authors such as Michel Foucault, Audre Lorde, Claire Bishop, and Grant Kester give me alternate and new perspectives on systems of oppression and the ethics of participation. Highly influential local artists and activists that inform my practice are Marcus Young, Natasha Pestich, Sarah Super, and the many survivors I have met since working with Break the Silence Day, an organization that seeks to change the culture of sexual assault by giving survivors a platform to talk about their experiences. Currently, I look to artists such as Adrian Piper and Suzanne Lacy for methodologies to communicate my subject matter to an audience.
The Trauma Memory Identity Project is a series of paintings on printed photographs that is the result of documentation this past summer of all of the objects that I had collected and kept in my life such as photographs, gifts, notes, and CDs. Through this archival and self-reflective process, I noticed a pattern of external factors that helped shape my identity as a woman and a present emotional disconnection from the objects. Assisted by evidence of how trauma effects memory in Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk’s book The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, I recognized that I no longer identified with myself in photographs and that this disconnect has been distorted by my own trauma. In order to confront this distortion, I selected specific photos from integral periods in my life to re-examine, process, and heal through paint, charcoal, graphite, colored pencil, and hand-sewn fabric.