Heidi Jeub is a painter, public artist, teaching artist, and arts facilitator. Her work with communities has spanned two decades, within arts organizations of many types and within cultural institutions as an artist or teaching artist. Her leadership has been acknowledged by the regional arts councils, through her contractual partnerships with schools, cities, and nonprofit organizations, and through her scholarly work at the University of Minnesota. By connecting arts and non-arts sectors in her grant acquisitions and relationship-building skills, new opportunities for organizational and/or artistic growth has surfaced in her role as the executive director of Visual Arts Minnesota and much of her work in Central Minnesota (St. Cloud, Little Falls, and Brainerd, especially). In recent years, as she focuses on her own professional growth, she has begun working with artists through mentoring, workshops, and FaceTime Consultations, in order to provide insight to unique journey of an artist.
My brain does not work in a monothematic manner. I find interesting ideas, materials, and opportunities and I jump on them. I have unapologetically diverged into subjects that were not part of the previous works I’ve explored, leaving my audience jarred. But the overarching themes in why I make these works are similar. I still look at systems that are invisible or obvious within these works.
It is worth discussing the reasoning for pigeons, namely a distraction from graduate studies and over-intellectualizing everything. I got lost in these birds as I worked through complexities of our society and art. Dramatic as that may seem, as I did my first series of these expression-filled, colorful and individualistic birds, I realized that these compositions still came back to grids.
The pigeon represents the environment forced upon a species, and evidence of their adaptability. The pigeon, whether urban or rural, knows its environment and its cohabitants like no other.
I have a lot of respect for these birds. Never looking the same way as their comrades and only in unison when having to scatter from danger. They are in tune with what we have given them: concrete, rooftops, ledges, and drains.
They embrace our architecture. They enjoy our friendship. They understand our world. They thrive.
They are part of the grids I have obsessed over, abstractly, for over 20 years. They stick out in color and manner, upon these ridges and lines we placed around them.
fortuitous |fôrˈto͞oədəs| recovery |rəˈkəv(ə)rē|
(adjective)happening by accident or chance rather than design (noun) a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength
Fortuitous because I had no idea what I was doing. Recovery because I realized I actually did. 20 years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I abandoned what I thought I wanted to be: an architect. But form stayed with me since.
Using materials that bring me back to the zone of late night architecture school, I create a bas-relief series of basswood, vellum, graph paper, and graphite, designing fortuitous relationships between each element. Past works (Acrylic on Canvas, 2013-2018) are selected and inspired by the stacks of Rapson Hall, giving some conceptual grounding to paintings done intuitively, without thought of my architectural influences.
I realized that forms stayed with me over time, like a memory of my first kiss or my mother’s spaghetti. The Grid showed up in my paintings from the beginning, organizing my work. I repeat this form to the point that I am no longer thinking about the action of making paintings. I get lost in the shape, and could be there to an almost infinite period.
…the grid is fully, even cheerfully, schizophrenic…logically speaking, the grid extends, in all directions, to infinity… (Krauss, 1979).
The grid became a character in my work, no longer a formula. Pain was finding refuge in the never-ending creation of gestural squares all within reach of each other. It served as clarity for me because it was about relationships. Not just on the flat page, but between the person and the object, the drawing of objects and the space not used. This station point, as it is called, is a concept I knew before I knew the word for it, is how I have approached my work, knowing how it would land in the end in a space with a person standing and absorbing it all.
There was a point when I discovered that where the building ends, begins the life of that space, that I did not want to be an architect anymore, but, rather, one who watches intently to see what is built from that day forward.
Hidden Architects, 2016
I am known for my abstract paintings, public art, and local arts activity. This perspective and drive started with an insincere desire to become an architect. This series is a detour from my usual work, reflecting on my abandonment of architecture as a life long career. It is about regret, desire, wonder, and cultural and societal critique.
I did everything right before going into architecture school: I had a mentorship with a local architect. I took drafting. I got a bunch of fancy books.
Yet when I built models, they fell apart. When I took tests on the major architectural wonders of the world, I failed miserably. I mispronounced French, Greek, and Italian towns and couldn’t get my centuries straight. I had no skills, no worldly context, or the ability to catch up in the typical college semester time frame.
I was screwed.
So, I left the program, much to my female dean’s dismay. I saw her rigid “wearing all black” Ayn Rand-ish self, slump in her chair, almost “whining” that I was only 1 of 3 young women n the program, and to please reconsider. I told her that I was afraid I wouldn’t be doing much more than nice garages and church additions. Nothing truly great. I didn’t even know where the Louvre was! I had a strip mall in my town of Sartell... and a paper mill, of course. This was not ample preparation for greatness. And I wanted to be great at something, dangit.
This series of collages allowed me to come to terms with this story. I don’t like blaming society, but after I looked through the magazines my mother (Home Beautiful) and my engineering grandfather (Scientific American) would likely read, I realized that it would have taken a much stronger desire for me to truly succeed in that field of Architecture. MUCH STRONGER.
Yet, if I would have seen more female architects, had more women mentors, or maybe a few more toys to help me imagine my future as an architect, then maybe it would be different.
So, although I kinda gave up, I still dance within space like I built it, admire the queen bees that made it, and keep making something out of nothing everyday. I teach art in STEM based programs at schools because I believe that this quitting story must be told. I want to look girls in the eyes and encourage them to push themselves into spaces that are still not truly open to them. Be Bold. Make Stuff.
Grids (2013 - 2018)
Whether a doodle or a background to a painting, the grid is a gestural theme in my work, since my years as an architecture student.
The grid is a frame of comfort for many people and while we consider the idea of being “off the grid,” we still create a grid to integrate into our lives. It’s a fascinating object. It is a concept. It is a frame of reference.
The grids are applied in acrylic paint, by brush or fingers and wander into other spaces, creating a free form in a systematic movement by the artist. The scale of each square is that which is most comfortable to the artist’s wrist and arm movement. That is why each one is so consistent, yet not measured.
Not until years later, after the repetition of this gesture, did consistency surface. The scale and proportions are a reflection of the maker and her environment.
Architectural systems are not about the walls that are built but how the people flow through that space. HVAC pipes push air to where we need to be cool or warm, or take away toxic air that would make us uncomfortable. So when we think of systems that are bigger than what we can see, are we being given the air to breath, or are we saved from the discomfort of our own toxicity?
This work is a visual representation of such systems. It could be applied to any aspect of our discourse in politics, social justice, spirituality or ourselves. It is meant to prompt questions of the larger system, not just about our own selves within that system.
When creating GRIDS, as found in the work in this exhibit, the ideas of our communities are so narrowly focused on the moment/day/space/idea at hand. Issues and ideas are being dropped with a simple click of the track pad or swipe of the screen. One tragedy is outshining another injustice. This is a daily occurrence.
The victims are our neighbors, but we find comfort in blaming them for not being like us... in this house... with these locks. Until we are truly affected by the system that breaks into our space, will we realize that we are all affected.
This is not meant to be a hopeless analysis of our society, but rather, to be aware of the walls that hold us in, and reach through the windows and doors that are passages past complacency and disengagement. Tell your story and listen to other’s stories. Feel a pain that you may not ever have to endure. Look into the eyes of those you are told to fear. Let love be the air you breathe and let toxic hate be taken away.