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"Outlooks: Heather Hart," An interactive sculptural environment, now open at Storm King
Heather Hart, American, b. 1975. Oracle of Lacuna, 2017. Wood, shingles, building materials, iPad, speakers. Courtesy the artist © Heather Hart. Photo by Jerry L. Thompson.

MOUNTAINVILLE, NY.- Storm King Art Center presents Outlooks: Heather Hart, on view from May 13 to November 26, 2017. The interactive sculptural environment takes the form of a domestic rooftop, and will be activated by performances, discussions, and other events. Hart’s work spans social and participatory sculpture, drawing, and printmaking, and deals with issues of perception, liminality, history, and spirituality. Hart is the first Outlooks artist to create a work at Storm King that is activated by programming and public participation. Storm King has responded to the work by expanding its artist-driven programming and further engaging the surrounding community.

Outlooks, now in its fifth year, is an exhibition series that invites one emerging or mid-career contemporary artist to engage with Storm King’s landscape and history and create a new, site-specific work to be installed on-site for a single season.

Titled The Oracle of Lacuna, the sculpture takes the form of the rooftop of a house that has seemingly fallen to the ground. The sculpture also contains an interior sanctuary, accessible via a dormer window and a truncated window. Visitors are permitted to both walk upon the rooftop and explore the interior sanctuary. The title of the work references the gap in the written history of the Hudson Valley region that individuals fill with their personal interpretations and fantasies.

The creation of the interior sanctuary is based in part on Hart’s research into the history of Storm King’s surrounding area and narratives from the Hudson Valley—particularly narratives regarding migration and immigration to the region. Hart has connected with local historians, artists, and residents to learn more about how the history of slavery, migration, and growth in the region has shaped local communities, a topic Storm King will explore through related public programs.

Public performances, workshops, and gatherings will happen on and around the rooftop’s exterior, including music, workshops, movement, spoken word, and poetry. Programming with community partners such as Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, Horizons-on-the-Hudson elementary school, Newburgh Free Academy West high school, Hudson Valley Writing Project, Rise & Root Farm, and music presented by the Ferry Godmother, are among many under development. Underneath, in the attic space that the roof creates, visitors hear projected narratives—recorded by Hart in spring 2017—that trace the intersecting histories of Storm King’s region.

Among the events hosted within Hart’s created environment at Storm King will be an iteration of the ten-year-old series Black Lunch Table (BLT), an ongoing collaboration between Hart and Jina Valentine, an artist and UNC Chapel Hill Assistant Professor of Art. BLT brings together local artists of the African Diaspora from the region where the conversation happens. Each conversation is recorded and included in a growing oral history archive and dynamic database that Hart and Valentine are in the process of creating and making accessible online. The BLT sessions that will occur as part of Outlooks: Heather Hart will create opportunities for critical discourse, and contribute to a conversation relating to local, national, and international points of concern.

Nora Lawrence, Storm King’s Curator and organizer of the exhibition, adds, “Outlooks projects, in deeply creative ways, have often focused on the history and development of Storm King’s physical site as artists turn to Storm King for inspiration. Heather Hart’s The Oracle of Lacuna will be the first Outlooks work to specifically address the rich cultural history of our region. I am thrilled at Heather’s commitment to collaborating so closely with a diverse range of Hudson Valley residents as she mines untold stories of our region.”

Hart comments, “The narratives of The Oracle of Lacuna are meant to emerge and transform through public programming and viewer activation. I am interested in not only creating a site-specific liminal space for personal reclamation but also in unpacking dominant narratives and creating alternatives to them.”

Hart is inspired by the concepts of liminal space, oral histories, and home. The roof is a recurring form in her work; it is a space between the sky and earth, between shelter and danger, between private and public. Hart sees carpentry, the profession of her father, as being related to oral histories, as a skill passed down from one person to another. She appreciates oral histories and the slippage of meaning within them: when one person tells a story, the other person perceives something unique, and slightly different from what was originally told.

Through her interdisciplinary practice Heather Hart (American, b. 1975) fuses fabricated and historical belief systems; legends that have been bequeathed through generations mixed with invention and intuition. Based in Brooklyn, NY, Hart was an artist in residence at Joan Mitchell Center, McColl Center of Art + Innovation, Bemis Center for Art, LMCC Workspace, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, Santa Fe Art Institute, Fine Arts Work Center, and at the Whitney ISP. Hart received grants from Creative Capital, Joan Mitchell Foundation, Harpo Foundation, Jerome Foundation, and a fellowship from NYFA. Her work has been included in a variety of publications like The New York Times, Seattle Times, Time Out New York, ARTnews, Art in America, The Art Newspaper, Drawing Papers, The Stranger, and others. Hart's work has also been exhibited widely including at Franconia Sculpture Park, Socrates Sculpture Park, University of Toronto, Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, Studio Museum in Harlem, ICA Philadelphia, Art in General, The Drawing Center, MoMA PS1, and the Brooklyn Museum among others. She studied at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Princeton University in New Jersey, and received her MFA from Rutgers University.

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