Heidi Wiren Bartlett, 2022 resident artist
Collaborators: Dave Sunderlin and Michael McGuire
Easton’s first sedimentary rock layer is the Hardyston sandstone. This piece stands at 11″ x 39″ x 23″. Its presence harkens back to a time of sea level rise in the Cambrian Period more than 500 million years ago. As the sea level rises, beach sand conditions encroach further onto the continent. It is a process that has repeated itself numerous times throughout Earth’s history and likely will again.
Debuting in July 2022, Upriver was a conceptual public art piece researched, developed, directed, and constructed by Bartlett, who enlisted actors, artists, scholars, geologists, engineers, musicians, a mule, and a draft horse. Each element was constructed to reflect the potent history of the Lehigh Valley and the myths of “The Place at the Forks.” Director of photography was Margaret Champagne.
Bartlett is a filmmaker, sculptor, and performance artist from the Great Plains. Her work is concerned with the portrayal, oppression, and subversive existence of women in America today. She sees her body as an object of power and vulnerability, and she sees nature and its processes in the same way. Together these inspire a practice that illuminates the overlooked and forgotten. Whether creating laborious actions or objects, she blurs the line between public and private, deconstructing notions of gender, race, and corporeality. She holds an MA and MFA in intermedia from the University of Iowa. A Pittsburgh resident, she is an artist and designer at Carnegie Mellon University and co-founder of Propelled Animals, a transdisciplinary arts and social justice collective.
In 2021, Bartlett’s work was featured in Resonance: The Journal of Sound and Culture. She was a Max Kade Fellow at Lafayette College, an artist-in-residence at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh, and a National Performance Network Artist Engagement Fund and Storytelling Grant awardee. She was nominated for the United States Artists Fellowship and selected as a roundtable scholar for the spring 2020 What Can Museums Become? symposium hosted by the Stanley Museum of Art at the University of Iowa.
Her studio is housed at the Brew House Association in Pittsburgh, and she is an artist-in-residence at High Concepts Labs in Chicago.
“The deep time recorded in the Pennsylvanian landscape is unlike anything I’ve known, including the geologic time that birthed the American Industrial Revolution. There’s magic in these mountains, and they have much to tell,” she says.
Upriver was sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Consortium (LVEHC), with generous support provided by a grant to Lafayette College from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Special thanks to the following Upriver collaborators (all in Pennsylvania):
Horses Unplugged, Bethlehem
Bluestone Gardens, Raubsville
Jim Caffrey Studios, Easton
Easton Public Works Department, Easton
Quality Machining and Fabrication, Easton
Rivers of Steel, Pittsburgh
Visionary Effects, Pittsburgh