MARY BETH HEFFERNAN is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work explores the interplay of corporeality and images. She is Professor of Sculpture, Photography and Interdisciplinary Art in the Art and Art History Department at Occidental College. Heffernan earned her BFA at Boston University in 1987, graduating Magna Cum Laude and awarded the Kahn Career Entry Award. She earned her MFA in the Photography Program at the California Institute of the Arts in 1994, and appointed a Studio Fellow of the Whitney Independent Study Program 1994-95.

“I use a broad range of media and different modes of address; the work is united by abiding questions about physicality and representation: How are bodies transcribed into photographs, scans or algorithms? How do pictures literally and figuratively change our bodies and our relationship with others? How and when does language take on physical force?  What are the gaps and failures of language to translate the complexities of the physical world, daily labor, bodily experience, and, more broadly, ourselves as subjects?”

Heffernan was awarded the inaugural 2016-17 PAC/LA Contemporary Artist Grant as Artist-in-Residence at The Huntington Library where she queried the purpose and meaning of an 18th c. anatomy textbook bound in human skin.  Heffernan’s 2014-15 PPE Portrait Project humanized the frightening protective gear worn by Ebola workers in Liberia, and was widely featured in the mainstream media and art press as well as academic venues advancing social medicine and efforts to integrate the arts in STEMM fields. In 2010, Heffernan was awarded the COLA Master Artist Fellowship.  Her work has been supported by grants from the Photographic Arts Council/LA, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the Durfee Foundation, and Light Work.

Heffernan’s art is included in numerous private and public collections, including The Huntington Library, Arts Collections, and Botanical Gardens, Light Work of Syracuse, NY, the Hammer Museum Grunwald Center Collection, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the New York City Library and the Royal College of Nursing-Great Britain Archive.

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