P·P·O·W is pleased to announce Boy, Oh Boy, our sixth solo exhibition of paintings by Julie Heffernan. Using the male figure for the first time, Heffernan’s new works explore the idea of human progress on both personal and political levels. The figures are an homage to transition and the passing on of wisdom from one generation to the next. The space of the canvas meditates on how we move into new chapters of our lives, both personally and as a planet.
In Self Portrait as Great Scout Leader III, there is a young boy carrying an overly large backpack filled with golden creatures, stamps and paintings amongst many other special items to help him on his journey. He is wearing a belt equipped with tools (books, apples, and ropes) which may be useful during his passage. He is partially holding up a world that he is about to enter, but this soon to be discovered world is not altogether sound, for there is an avalanche below. In other works such as Self Portrait as Budding Boy and Self Portrait as Boy in Flight there are boys high up in trees, each creating miniature ecosystems and managing their environments, even as they appear to unravel. Heffernan gives us endearing and fragile images of a new masculinity that signal her faith in a potential yet threatened future world.
In addition to the paintings of adventurous boys, there are multiple landscape paintings that imagine what alternative worlds would be like if the one we are familiar with vanishes. Self Portrait with Shoots and Ladders envisions a place where pathways lead to disaster or, conversely, miniature Edens. Self Portrait in New Land is a proposition for how we might remake the world when it all falls apart. Personal amulets are revealed throughout Heffernan’s paintings in the form of tiny images of faces, art treasures and vignettes which reflect history, wisdom and truths.
All of these works remark on the nature of human society, the cycles of life and the possibilities of renewal alongside the entrapments of compliance and stasis. Like Heffernan’s women, her new characters carry heavy histories of the past as they try to valiantly reshape the future.
Julie Heffernan was born in 1956 and received her MFA from Yale University. She has had numerous one-person exhibitions around the country and has shown internationally. She has received a Lila Acheson Wallace award, NY Foundation for the Arts award, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright-Hayes Grant. She is the Head of the Fine Arts Department at Montclair State University.