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COLORFUL PATTERNS: Heather Divoky talks garnering inspiration from climate change

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Heather Divoky’s piece ‘Bananaeclipse’ was inspired after eating a banana during a lunar eclipse. Courtesy photo.


Art in Bloom opened “Detailed Complexity” a week and a half ago as part of Fourth Friday Gallery Night in downtown Wilmington. The exhibit features new works by Bob Bryden (printmaker), Heather Divoky (artist and illustrator) and H.M. Saffer II (oil painter). Each artist showcases intricacy of design and technique. We spoke with Heather Divoky about her six new colorful, patterned paintings, measuring from 5-by-5 to 36-by-18.

encore (e): Was there a general theme you followed? What inspired the collection?

Heather Divoky (HD): I was inspired by the environment for newer pieces. They all depict various aquatic animals in containers not normally considered an aquarium. For instance, there is a jelly fish in a test tube, an angular fish in a mason jar, a shrimp in a perfume bottle and a whale in a terrarium. The series is called, “Is This How We Save Them?” It is a meditation on how our oceans are in danger.

e: What mediums did you use and how has your technique evolved over the years?

HD: I use pen and ink primarily; although I have been using copper wire and paint more. I’ve also been cutting the work up and layering it so there is a 3D effect. Since my work is so dense, having physical planes on each piece really makes it pop!

For my next show, I will be using multiple media to explore Hurricane Florence, natural disaster, poverty and community. It will include pen and ink, paint, wire sculpture, recycled material and kinetic art, which I am really excited about.



e: Take us through one piece in the show, from conception to start to finish…

HD: I think my favorite work is the jellyfish in the test tube. It was the first piece I worked on for the series.

I was reading an article about a jelly that hadn’t been seen since WWII but had been spotted recently—Drymonema dalmatinum—and working on a film about GenX and water conservation, so I think naturally my mind wandered in a direction to ask: “What’s our water situation going to look like 10 years from now? 20? How are we supposed to preserve the biodiversity in our waters?”

After I had the initial concept, I drew the work out in pencil using some of my favorite patterns, inked it, and then proceeded to chop up the entire piece. I reassembled the piece using foam core to create a layered look. I also used gold and silver paint pens to further break up the intense pattern work—something I haven’t done before but definitely plan on doing again.

e: How do you know when to walk away from your art and call a piece complete?

HD: I have a very complete image in my head when I start a piece. A lot of the more complex patterns are drawn from history, and once something is set in pencil, it rarely changes. While the image itself doesn’t change, the color palette can change, since I don’t really plan that out. Everything else is very meticulously planned.

“Bananaeclipse ” is a great example—this piece isn’t about sea life, but about memory—my memory of the solar eclipse in South Carolina. I was eating a banana during the pivotal moment of the eclipse, which is when the image came to me: a banana being blocked out by the moon. I immediately knew the image and when it was done.

e: How do you feel your work fits into the show with the other two artists? Complementary? Differences?

HD: This was a really great show to be a part of. Bob and H.M. work in different mediums from me, yet the sheer attention to detail and color create a visually cohesive story between the three of us.

Bob’s work is mesmerizing—his print work is layer upon layer of color, to the point depth is created within these layers.

H.M.’s fantastical landscapes are beautiful and intense. He uses pointillism to create haunting, layered atmospheres, and they’re lovely.

I love seeing how complexity as a concept is expressed through different media, which is what makes the show so special.

e: What’s next for you?

HD: “Bounce Back: A Visual Narrative of Hurricane Florence” is a show I will be doing at the Leland Cultural Arts Center in September. It will be my most important project to date, and will examine the complex relationship between natural disaster, poverty, and our ability to bounce back from something that will happen again, thanks to climate change.

I am fortunate enough to be responding to Working Narrative’s “Storm Stories,” including a piece inspired by Support the Port’s work during the hurricane. The show will be up through the month of September, and I will have a reception Thursday, September 12, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Leland Cultural Arts Center. In October it will be in the Leland Town Hall.

e: Five-year plan? 10-year plan?

HD: It is my first year as a full-time artist! I’m really excited to be doing art as my job; it’s been one of my dreams. As such, I really just want to keep working on art and hanging out with friends and family.

I would like to see myself continuing to address pressing issues with art, including politics. I think art has the ability to connect, and I’d really like to see my work make a difference in the coming years.

Detailed Complexity
Closing reception: August 23, 6-9 p.m. • On exhibit through September 1
Art in Bloom, 210 Princess St.
Tues. – Sat., 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday Noon – 5pm

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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