“From Our Hands Comes the Secret Warmth of Winter” by Heather Spielman


Acrylic on Canvas

There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.
– Edgar Allan Poe

My artwork is an exercise in capturing human beauty (and occasionally the beauty of a cow or a monkey, though to a somewhat lesser degree). As I flip through the endless roll of magazine covers and articles for sources of inspiration, one thing becomes incessantly clear; beauty can and, dare I say, should exist with a little bit of oddity to it.

This is why I love Poe’s quote so much. With every stroke I apply to the canvas, I like to ask myself the following question; can I make something beautiful and strange? Can I skirt the line of what is conventional to make this woman strain in bizarre pose, or elongate the next one’s proportions, or paint a pretty girl in a garish, questionable mix of hues? Set in the core of my work is the dream to re-imagine beauty, and although the swath of female faces might seem familiar, at the same time I like to set them apart, have them mingle surrealistically on a surface.

With my digital art, the aim of my work is to translate the image of the avatar and its virtual world into something cozy and familiar. I believe that as time and technology progresses, the line between reality and virtual life will start to blur. My art serves as a glimpse into the future, while recording the infancy of a new digital age, and the reinvention of identity through the eye of the avatar.

It would delight me to know that I make the viewers of my work seek a broader perspective of beauty. I can see my work, as such, evolving to address the common imperfections that permeate so many of our lives. I hope to spur a new review of the self and the world, both interpretations existing as a varied ideal inside all of us.


Avivo Artworks

Since 2004, Avivo ArtWorks, formerly Spectrum ArtWorks, has been working to support professional artists living with mental illness. Located at the Lighthouse, a Community Support Program in Minneapolis, the program meets its mission through a community-focused and recovery-based approach. Its multi-faceted art studio and programming assists artists at reaching and maintaining their artist-related goals such as making new art, connecting with other artists, and accessing exhibition and grant opportunities.

In addition to this, each year the program organizes a new exhibition that aims to meet its mission to challenge stigma and raise mental health awareness. In 2015, the program partnered with the Minneapolis Institute of Art to bring “In Conversation,” a residency and exhibition that featured 17 artists from the program. Each participant created a new piece of art that was in conversation with an object or artwork in the museum’s collection. In 2017, Avivo ArtWorks facilitated “The Big Picture,” a group exhibition that presented artwork that explored wellness in recovery through art. “To Really See,” opening August 2017 at the Hennepin County Library – Central Minneapolis, is Avivo ArtWorks first every traveling group exhibition. The show explores the medication-taking experience and will feature artwork from artists who use Avivo ArtWorks services and artists from across the state of Minnesota.


Jes Reyes, MA
Arts Specialist
Avivo ArtWorks 
612-752-8282 | jes.reyes@avivomn.org