In New Exhibit, Philadelphia Artist Captures Images of Personal Hardship

October 20, 2011

October 19, 2011 — Philadelphia artist Daniel Heyman states on his website, "The choice of subjects is the most important moment an artist has for expressing himself – it's the moment when he says, 'This is what I am about.'"

An exhibit of his work, "Bearing Witness: Daniel Heyman," curated by Dean Dass, a studio art professor in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences, opens Oct. 28 at U.Va.'s Ruffin Gallery and runs through Dec. 2. The exhibit is on view weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A Final Friday reception will be held Oct. 28, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., in the gallery.

Heyman's portraits depict images of great personal hardships – portraits of former Abu Ghraib detainees, homeless veterans, African-American fathers who have been in and out of jail, a homeless Vietnam veteran, a survivor of military sexual assault and new immigrants to the U.S. Heyman incorporates the subjects' words in his compositions.

"What gives Heyman's portraits their quiet power is an unexpected juxtaposition: Lips are sealed shut on every face, as if the temporal flow of speech has been silenced, replaced by a steady and immovable gaze; yet, excerpts of the sitter's testimony, sometimes jittery and disjointed and invariably horrifying, swirl around his head in ornate scrolls of looping language and blunt blocks of text," wrote Christopher Knight in a Los Angeles Times review of a version of the show at the Laband Art Gallery in January. 

Heyman, a painter and printmaker, will be in residence at U.Va., working with printmaking and drawing classes from Oct. 24 through 28. As part of the week's events, he and Douglas Fordham, U.Va. associate professor of art history, will give public talks on Oct. 26, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., in the Caplin Pavilion at the Law School. Heyman's talk, "Bearing Witness," and Fordham's "War and Selective Vision" will be followed by a reception.

Heyman is a 2010 Guggenheim Fellow in fine arts and a 2009 Pew Fellowship in the Arts recipient. He has lectured and given workshops at the Rhode Island School of Design, Tyler School of Art, Fashion Institute of Technology, Centre International des Arts Contemporain in Pont Aven, France, and Philadelphia University. Currently, Heyman teaches at Rhode Island School of Design, Princeton University and Swarthmore College.

Heyman earned an M.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and is a cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College.

His exhibit and residency are co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts, the McIntire Department of Art, the Law School's Human Rights Program, the Institute for Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy, and the Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life.

— By Jane Ford

Media Contact

Jane Ford

Senior News Officer U.Va. Media Relations