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Sue Hettmansperger / Iterations: Painting and Collage

Sue Hettmansperger, List Gallery exhibition

Sue Hettmansperger

Sue Hettmansperger / Iterations: Painting and Collage

2019 Heilman Visiting Artist

November 7—December 15, 2019

Artist Lecture:  Thursday, November 7 at 4:30 p.m., Lang Performing Arts Center Cinema. 
List Gallery reception will follow, 5:30-7:00 p.m.

View a [PDF] of the exhibition catalog.

Sue Hettmansperger has been recognized for elaborating the traditions established by early 20th century American Modernists such as Marsden Hartley,Arthur Dove, and Georgia O’Keefe. Using a limited palette, abstracted forms, flattened spaces, and inventive gestures, she creates transcendental and emblematic representations of nature. Her varied sources of inspiration include southwestern deserts, human anatomy, botanical forms, topology and mapping,  Photoshopped images, and the by-products of industrial technology. Studying such diverse imagery through the lenses of drawing, printmaking, painting, and collage, she has developed an idiosyncratic vocabulary of forms, textures, and gestures. Hybrid elements interweave and float near the center of each picture, like debris captured by a river current or ocean gyre.

Hettmansperger most often begins with small-scale experiments in collage and the resulting compositions form the basis for her oil paintings. Comparing her collages with their painted counterparts, we see her ideas evolve through translations of scale, media, and color. Her complex grids of similarly sized canvases simultaneously read as still lifes, landscapes, and successive states of mind. Intimate in scale, but ambitious in scope, her works offers elegies in response to our lost connection to nature.

The Department of Art and Art History at Swarthmore College is pleased to honor Sue Hettmansperger as the 2019 Marjorie Heilman Visiting Artist at Swarthmore College. Born in 1948 in Akron, Ohio and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she attended the Yale University Summer School of Art in 1971. She earned a B.F.A. in 1972 and an M.A. in 1974 from the University of New Mexico, where she focused on lithography and drawing. She is Professor Emerita at the University of Iowa, where she taught studio art from 1977 to 2018. Since 1988, Hettmansperger has presented eight one-person exhibitions at A.I.R. Gallery, New York City. Her work has also been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the Figge Museum of Art, Bowling Green State University, Northern Arizona University, Grinnell College; University of Texas, San Antonio; Des Moines Art Center; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; and Evanston Art Center. Her work appeared in the publication New American Paintings Midwest in 2005 and 2010.

In 2008, Hettmansperger received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in Painting. Her other awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1983, the University of Iowa Faculty Scholar Award in 1997 and 99, an Iowa Arts Council Major Grant, and five University of Iowa Arts and Humanities Initiative Grants. She has also been awarded residency fellowships by the MacDowell Colony, Roswell Museum Artist in Residence Program, the Ucross Foundation, and the Corporation of Yaddo.

Her work is represented in distinguished institutional collections, including the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Des Moines Art Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the University of Iowa Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Kemper Art Museum. Her public artworks include commissions from the University of Iowa Biomedical Discovery Building; Kirkwood College, Iowa; and the Cedar Rapids Convention Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. More information can be found online:

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