Urbanism, particularly how the contemporary condition of interconnectivity, the agency of the individual and the theory of emergence effect the built environment is the focus of my work. To address these concepts, I create researchbased installations to highlight the importance of place and the living history of the site. These installations are comprised of an architectural vocabulary of press molded ceramic multiples and common building materials with a rough-hewn aesthetic. Historical relevance is placed on the use of ceramics as a building block of cities in its brick and tile form. The aesthetic choice is made to reference our aged infrastructure. My construction process is labor intensive and repetitive, echoing the mass production of buildings and the temporary construction sites that leave our cities in a constant state of flux. I investigate issues that arise in cities such as: urban development, eminent domain, access to private property, red lining, sprawl and subdivision of land. I also address suggested solutions achieved through responsible master plans. By loosely defining the outcome for an installation, I allow an emergent aspect to develop. Depending on the work, the viewer is invited to help install on site, enter a construction site, deconstruct or reorganize an installation with intent to encourage a sense of agency that is sometimes missing in the built environment. My work promotes ground up solutions to urban planning rather than top down decisions by requesting the viewer’s participation and granting access to the work.
Gail Heidel received a M.F.A. from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in May 2008, completed a postbaccalaureate program in Ceramics at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2004, and earned a B.F.A. from the University of Connecticut, Storrs in 1995. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Heidel is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Hunter College, New York, NY.
Recent exhibitions include the solo exhibition Takings at Clay Art Center, Port Chester, NY; a site project titled Change of Use, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, Newcastle, ME; the two-person exhibition Bridged at the Lachaise Gallery, Cedar Crest College, Allentown, PA and the group exhibition Extraction at Space Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA. Heidel has been written about in Ceramic Art and Perception, Ceramics Monthly, Ceramics Ireland, Pittsburgh City Papers and the Pittsburgh Tribune and will be included in upcoming books written by Chang Bang and Glen Brown.