While I don’t consider myself a poet, I enjoy writing poetry. I find it is now often the starting point of conceptual sources of ideas that inform my abstract work particularly. From the pandemic right up to today, writing is an integral part of my process, same as building stretcher bars, stretching, and preparing my canvas, or building wooden cradled panels, it is part of my workflow and early conceptualization of the work.I continue to work on a body of poems that will form a manuscript for a debut collection of poems and paintings.The poem and award-winning film below created by Brandon Peterson is the anchor poem in the ongoing Wayfinding body of work.
wayfinding visual poem
an Irish artist in the American South
Born in Dublin 1954, Michael works full-time from his studio in Marietta, 30 minutes north of the city of Atlanta, Georgia. He focused on abstract conceptual works during the pandemic, lockdown, and isolation. In June 2020 he began writing poetry to recall childhood memories, his life in Ireland, and indeed as a coping mechanism in a time of uncertainty. The intensity of this focus has led to a practice inspired by the overlap of visual and written language as mark-making and combined forms of expression and storytelling.This ongoing endeavor is called wayfinding through visual and poetic language. This body of work was the basis for his solo exhibition "Wayfinding" from January 7 until March 12, 2023, at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art.
A follow-up solo exhibition of Wayfinding was shown at The Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville, GA from June 15 through August 12, 2023.He graduated from the National College of Art & Design (NCAD) Dublin in 1975, and Birmingham Polytechnic, with a postgraduate in Industrial Design Engineering in 1977. As an award-winning designer, he moved to the US with his family in 1989 where he spent over 35 years in several "C" suite leadership positions in entrepreneurial companies in healthcare, science & technology, and professional services.Michael is Represented by [Robert Kent Galleries], (https://robertkentgalleries.com/artist-works.php?artistId=357649&artist=Michael+Heffernan)
now in his fifth year. He has exhibited in Sol Art Gallery, Dublin Ireland, Mason Fine Art Gallery, Atlanta Georgia, and several regional and local galleries in the southeastern United States. He had two large solo exhibitions of Wayfinding in 2023, at Marietta Cobb Museum of Art, Marietta, Georgia, and Quinlan Visual Art Center, Gainesville,Georgia. His work is sold throughout the US.
Working on a large scale provides another dimension for expression, and as I progress there is a consolidation between landscape and abstract expressionism. I use a lot of texture in my work and feel a tactile quality and three-dimensionality in the surface with built-in layers of color, editing, removing, and adding elements is not unlike the process of writing and finding the right words to express with economy of language. In short, the synthesis of language to connect and move.The seamless expression excites me, the search and expression of emotional connection with the viewer, providing just enough for the viewer to participate, interpret and engage in the work. I like to think I can draw the viewer into the paintings, and they discover interesting passages each time they engage with them, especially over time. I strive for consistency in my visual vocabulary that I continue to extrapolate and explore as I progress in my obsession with the materiality of paint and its boundless possibilities.
Interview on NPR affiliate WABE
Interview on Common Éire