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Indepth Arts News:

"American Promise: Heidi Hesse"
2004-12-07 until 2005-01-05
PH Gallery
New York, NY, USA United States of America

PH Gallery is pleased to announce “American Promise,” an exhibition works by contemporary international artist Heidi Hesse. “American Promise” explores the dynamics of expectation and responsibility inherent in the “inalienable rights” of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” These rights are the foundation of the American Dream, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Hesse’s new series of work juxtaposes text and images, and expressions of color and play to explore the contradictions inherent in the founding rhetoric and contemporary reality of life in America.

Hesse was born in Germany and lived in South Africa and Germany before coming to the United States. Drawing from her perspective as an immigrant, she focuses a playful and insightful eye on the assumptions that underlie the “American Promise.”

The exhibition is organized around the key rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Each theme is unique unto itself and simultaneously dependent on the other theme for its resonance and meaning.

American Dream is an installation that offers an alternative to the notion of hard work implicit in the American dream. It consists of a change machine, a capsule dispenser, and an artwork, which will be won by one of the participants. The capsule dispenser and change machine hang side by side, asking visitors to try their luck at winning the artwork, by buying a capsule. All capsules contain Liberty buttons and citizenship “trivia” questions. Inside one of the capsules is a winning ticket for designated piece of work made by gumballs.

Candy Chromes is a group of small paintings inspired by life under the Homeland Security Warning System. Brightly colored and highly finished, the paintings are made in colors of the warning system, which also the color of gumballs.

Enacting Citizenship is a series of ink and gouache paintings on panel. These works feature advice from the "Great American Handbook," which discusses ways to enact the promise of America. Text works such as “bake and apple pie,” “contribute,” and "report unusual activities," are interspersed with drawings of Lady Liberty. Drawing on the Declaration is a word mobile in perpetual motion. It is a play on the pursuit of inalienable rights, and the relationship of the founding concepts being in constant flux and motion.

Happiness, acrylic paint on canvas, is a series of exuberant paintings, which emit an American confidence, juxtaposing the passive and active requirements of homeland and happiness.

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