Burning in Water is pleased to feature a solo presentation of recent work by gallery artist Valerie Hegarty.
Valerie Hegarty’s new series of wall works, Elegies to the Environment, explores the poetic possibilities of still life imagery. In the same way that an elegiac poem laments the dead, the works in Elegies to the Environment reference the art historical genre of vanitas, wherein symbolic works of art allude to the transience of life and the fleetingness of pleasure and material possessions.
Hegarty’s recurring depiction of the striped tulip (Semper Augustus) in this series references the traditions of Dutch vanitas and still life painting, as well as the historical role of the highly prized flower during the Dutch Golden Age Tulip mania period. Hegarty’s painting-sculpture hybrids constructed of wood, wire, and epoxy clay also recall the Japanese tradition of Ikebana (“arranging flowers", or "making flowers alive.”)
Though Hegarty manifests the prototypical subject of flowers in varying iterations, she inscribes contemporary anxieties regarding environmental loss, genetic mutations, apocalyptic destruction, and illness into the works. Hegarty’s art is not without a sense of hope, howeverwith roots spiraling out of frames and wooden stretcher bars transforming into rogue branches, stems, and tulips, her works transmute the dead to the living, resilience and survival persisting amidst the threat of destruction.