Borough Gallery: A lot of your artwork is constructed from found objects and materials, much of them desiccated and fragile.  How do you collect them all?  And is the collecting important in some personal way?  Because they do seem like you happened upon them at opportune times, a month earlier or later and they wouldn’t have the qualities they do, or even be preservable at all.

Michael Heeney: I do work with a lot of found objects and materials. The act of collecting them can take on many forms.  Sometimes I know that I want, say, an antique light bulb, so I search for the perfect one in junk shops, industrial areas, online, or wherever else I think I might find what I’m looking for.   Other times I’m not even looking for anything specific, but the thought of collecting an object and incorporating it into my art keeps my eyes open all the time and makes me look into the dark and dirty corners of my everyday life. So the act of collecting is important to me because it forces me to look into the places that have been forgotten about.  I don’t treasure the objects in and of themselves, but I do treasure their symbolism, and I love the mystery of their stories and their history that I will never understand.

Michael Heeney's studio space

BG: Is that “history that I will never understand” a subject you explicitly express through your artwork?  Do you think a person can have an intense relationship with something they cannot know?

MH: I try not to explicitly express any subject with these pieces,  I don’t want to define them too much, I want them to be a beautiful mystery mounted to the wall and I’m just relaying that mystery.   I love that I don’t know the history of these objects, where they came from, who the last person was that touched it, misplaced it, drop-kicked it, or how or why.  And yes, I do think that someone can have an intense relationship with something that they cannot know, but I wouldn’t encourage it; it will probably just lead to heartache, sleepless nights, or trespassing.

Michael Heeney "Untitled VII" shotgun shell, 100 year old barnwood with original nails, and dirt, 5"x8"

BG: I was talking with a friend the other day about ghosts; that, rather than disembodied spirits, they are aberrations in an attempt to understand unanswerable mysteries, which is actually more terrifying if you think about it.  Is making your art anything like that?  Do you ever get spooked with all these collected objects assumedly in your closet?

MH: Wow.  Great question.  I don’t know, but I love the theory about ghosts being unanswerable mysteries.  It is very human to want to solve every mystery, even if it is beyond our capacity, i.e. religion, god, the afterlife…   I like to theorize and fantasize about the answers, but I accept the mystery as  unanswerable.  This grounds me and makes me feel human and a part of the natural food chain, and I like that.   I don’t get spooked by the collected objects.  I am delighted by them.

BG: If the moon is colonized and the city there suddenly became “the it place” of the culture scene would you leave the earth to live there?

MH: Nah. Well, maybe if there was an atmosphere on the moon.   I wouldn’t want to wear a space suit every time I went outside.   If the new culture scene was on a moon of jupiter I’d be down…

Michael Heeney "Untitled III" inkjet photo transfer, joint compound, polyurethane, and found wood, 11"x12"

See Michael Heeney‘s work and the rest of the artists hanging around our current show “Entropic Restructed” before it closes May 9th.

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