Living near the tempest prone shores of the northern coast of California, Heather Allison’s work is shaped by fog filled skies and moody beaches. Best known for her pensively lit still life photographs of exotic and domestic ephemera, Heather arranges taxidermy, flowers, bones and books into dramatic compositions reminiscent of vanitas style Dutch master botanical paintings. Her photos dance the line between the macabre and the sub-lime: a nod to her love of Victorian memento mori, she venerates both equally. Her love of- and background in art history can be seen in her works, connecting the modern age to her predecessors in visual art. Though she began her career in photojournalism and event coverage, it was the sudden passing of a family member that inspired Heather to explore the transience of life through still life imagery; it is here that her passion for the medium was revitalized and continues. Heather has an AA in Photojournalism from Brooks Institute of Photography, a BFA in Art History from the Academy of Art University, and is currently working on an MFA Fine Art Photography at AAU. Showing across the United States, Heather Allison’s imagery has been featured in such art publications as The Shoutflower, she maintains close working relationships with luxury interior design firms such as Raven Vanguard, and her works can be found in private collections both domestically and overseas.
Artist Statement –
Public mourning once played a large role in everyday life, exemplified by Queen Victoria and the culture she created and embraced following the death of Prince Albert. Now however, the discus-sion of grief is considered taboo to the extent that most avoid even acknowledging that human mor-tality exists and act as if death is catching, leaving those going through it to feel alone in their pain. Over the course of the last two and a half years, the arrival of a global pandemic has changed that and has forced us all to live with a collective grief. We are currently being asked to accept death in a way that we never have before. Although I have been preoccupied with human mortality for as long as I can remember, it was my own personal experience with the unexpected loss of my father due to complications with chemo therapy, that initially inspired my imagery to turn toward fine art and the still life genre with a focus on grief.
It is through this fine art still life body of work, that I indulge this fixation, creating vanitas
tableaux reflecting on death; a once normalized approach to the acknowledgment of mortality and the beauty of living. In carefully constructed still life photographs captured digitally and overflowing with hidden messages, iconography, and the expression of color, I search for connection to the dead and explore grief, reclaiming this genre and elevating the categorization of still life. Images from this body of work create an intimate experience for the viewer and encourage inner contemplation on our ever-evolving relationship with the transient nature of our lives, and provide a safe space for mourning and connection; when you find someone who has experienced grief as you have, everything changes.