My interview, Political Artistry, in the 2016 Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Quarterly is now out in print. In it I discuss how I became an artist, the importance of attention, and the connection between art and politics. You can read it now on the MHC alumnae website or you can scroll down and read it now.
Top: Petals. 2014-15. Bone, plastic petals, gold paint, 2 in x 13 in x 4 in; Bottom: Zip Ties for #blacklivesmatter. 2014-15. Bones, zipties, 2 in x 17 in x 4 in.
“Attention is such a valuable thing these days. We’re constantly distracted,” says Heidi Neubauer-Winterburn ’03. “I want to help people see things that are important . . . and pause. Pausing is important.” The Denver artist seeks to command the attention of her audiences by utilizing a wide variety of artistic media, including found objects, video, and photography.
Neubauer-Winterburn grew up in a family that encouraged creativity, enjoying many art forms, from photography to poetry. But the idea of a career in the arts, she says, “seemed rather naive, unattainable.”
At Mount Holyoke Neubauer-Winterburn studied philosophy and law in her early college years. “I actually spent most of my time at MHC avoiding being an artist,” she says. It wasn’t until a trip to India during J-term that the possibility of being an artist arose. During her time abroad, Neubauer-Winterburn took black-and-white photos of the skinning and gutting of cattle, a series that made her rethink her active avoidance of pursuing the arts.
Once photography opened the gate to artistic expression, Neubauer-Winterburn was unstoppable. Eventually ending up at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she began exploring unconventional materials. Her 2015 show and series, Do Your Teeth Miss the Taste of the Sky?, collected found bones and varied materials, including yarn, to create a sculptural anthology that is at once bright and tranquil. Past projects include The Cloud (2011–2015), an inflatable tent of sorts made for a regional Burning Man outdoor festival, and an installation called How to Party Like It’s 2003 in Abu Ghraib (2008), which includes handcuffs, pills, glow sticks, and a video loop. Neubauer-Winterburn says the latter project partially came out of her sense of responsibility as an artist and a citizen.
“I think artists have a duty to be political, to speak out about the things they see happening,” she says. She has also examined Guantanamo Bay and other internment facilities across the world, creating video and digital collages that explore the “troubling practices” she observes. Her Internet collage Invented Archives (2008) explores CIA “Black Sites,” internment camps that have come under scrutiny from human rights organizations. Neubauer-Winterburn aims in her own way to call attention to these human rights violations.
Neubauer-Winterburn’s video work has been shown across the United States and in Europe. Her most recent solo show was at SPARK Gallery in Denver and was featured in the January 2015 issue of the LandEscape Art Review journal after being selected from nearly 4,000 international submissions.
—By Olivia Collins ’18