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Q&A with Artist Heidi Kepnes of Intimations: An Illuminated Art at Opus

For the rest of this week, “Intimations: An Illuminated Art” will be on view on at Opus in Salem, projected onto the Salem Five wall visible from the bar’s back patio.

The restaurant commissioned Salem-based surrealist artist Heidi Kepnes (she/her), with the help of LuminArtz and Hersch Visuals, to activate the space. And we caught up with Heidi to find out more about her and her work.

Intimations: An Illuminated Art will be on view at Opus until October 31, 2020
Image courtesy of Heidi Kepnes

Tells us a bit about you:

I have been living and making art in Salem for 15 years. I graduated from MassArt in Boston in 2005. My art is a sort of three dimensional construction using mixed media; including but not limited to encaustic, paint, collage, found metal objects, and string. I would describe the work as abstract expressionism with a focus on the surreal and esoteric. 

You recently installed a show at Opus in Salem, tell us about the show and when/how people can see it.

I’m very excited about this show! This was a wonderful collaboration to be a part of. With the help of Lyn Burke, founder of LuminArtz, and Pamela Hersch, of Hersch Visuals, Opus restaurant, and the Salem Five Bank; we bring you “Intimations: An illuminated art installation“.

Through projection mapping, my art is on display painted in light and larger than ever before. It’s an immersive experience and the themes of the work really echo with the times that we are currently in. The work really tells a story of an apocalyptic time and aims to find order and meaning and hope in that destructive chaos.

The imagery has a sense of familiarity and a darkness that I believe people can relate to.

It’s an expression of those tribal lores that seem so intrinsic in our belief systems, a subconscious memory, an ancient codex that we have forgotten how to decipher. I was very happy to have the images projected onto brick.

Art by Heidi Kepnes

Salem has this incredible rich history and the themes that I work with come from a similar place, literally constructed from old watch cogs and the innards of a typewriter and candle wax and soot. It makes sense to view this work on the side of a brick building in downtown Salem. You can view the installation at Opus in the courtyard for the remainder of October. The projection starts at sundown

How would you describe your creative process? 

I really try to focus on capturing the viewer. The more you look, the more you see. The process is an intuitive one involving many layers and mixed media. I never finish a piece in one sitting. It’s important for me to come back to the art in a different moment of time, look at it with new eyes, new emotions, draw conclusions and connections that present themselves as I work. It can be a long process.

How has this year affected your process? What have you learned about yourself? 

It’s been a tough year for me creatively. I think it can go either way with this kind of thing. Initially I was hoping that I would have this creative spark that I could harness for months while being in this kind of “lockdown” state.

I spoke to artists who really thrived this year and others who were overwhelmed with lack of motivation and creative blocks. It’s been a struggle, but I’m thrilled to at least showcase some of my work in a new medium; that of light and projection. 

Intimations: An Illuminated Art will be on view at Opus until October 31, 2020
Image courtesy of Heidi Kepnes

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received about creativity?

The best advice I think is to keep creating! Keep making. I believe that who we are is mirrored in our artistic work. That can be a difficult thing to grapple with as an artist.

There’s a fear there; of being exposed, judged, being fully revealed to ourselves and others. The most important way to overcome that fear is to continue pushing through it. Even if it’s a sketch a day, 20 min in the studio, maybe it’s going to a museum or researching for an upcoming project; finding your inspiration. Keep making. It’s important to push yourself, but to not be too self critical when you find yourself in the void of an artistic block. 

What are you hopeful for in the coming months?

More creation! I’m hoping I will seize this winter that is upon us and spend more time in my studio. 

How can your community better support you and your art? 

I LOVE our community! Since moving here in 2005, I have found the most amazing creative people in Salem. There are so many people that have reached out to me to do shows and get involved in the art scene. Local businesses who have supported many creative endeavors in our city.

Salem has an incredible, vibrant, and thriving art scene that I am so happy to be a part of. 

Where can people follow you and find out more about your art?

They can go to my website at www.heidikepnes.com


Are you an artist doing great work? Do you want to nominate an artist doing great work for feature on our site? Send our editor a message at joeyphoenix@creativecollectivema.com for consideration.


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