Heather Whittlesey

A feminist artist with no strings attached

Art Terrarium at the Skywalk


This installation was part of a pop up exhibit in Des Moines Kaleidoscope at the Hub.  The Kaleidoscope is an indoor mall within the skywalk located in the business district in Des Moines.  This sculpture is the beginning of releasing these paper forms from the walls so that they can occupy less constricted space and have an unobstructed presence.  The use of color stems from wanting to incorporate more emotional and warm energy.  The armature of the installation is held completely in place by suction cups.  The installation took approximately 26 hours to install and about a 1.5 minutes to uninstall.

Endorphins is a solo exhibition of mixed media installation.  Objects were chosen for this installation through their associations with endorphin releasing behaviors.  These behaviors centralize around consumption, pain, energy, and happiness.

Endorphins are electrochemical signals that transfer information throughout the central nervous system.  These neurotransmitters are localized in the pituitary gland and spread throughout the brain and nervous system.  External factors such as stress or pain activate the production and release or endorphins.  The release of endorphins brings physiological side effects such as euphoria, calmness, change of appetite, release of hormones, and decreased perception of pain. Endorphins is a tongue in cheek way to interpret how material everyday items have the symbolism to invoke feeling and thought. These feelings and thoughts are strong enough to cause the production of endorphins.  Shopping tags are commonplace and the act of shopping is full of external stimuli associated with releasing endorphins.  Candy and quilting pins are on the opposite sides of the spectrum for endorphin production.  Thread is similar to synaptic maps that these neurotransmitters follow. Notebook bindings are visually similar to a spine, the central nervous system highway. Pipettes, vinyl tubing and latex gloves compliment Endorphins thematic association with medical devices. While paper plates bring thoughts of consuming food and a light bulb hangs with the potential for energy.