Heather Gray is a multifaceted artist and designer working in film, television, stage and the public sphere. Her work has animated spaces locally and internationally, bringing a critical lens to everyday surroundings and the social relations they produce. Her work has appeared across the hemisphere from MIX NYC Experimental Film Festival in New York, MOCA Tucson, Pan Galeria in Valparaiso, Chile and Universidad ITESO in Guadalajara, to the streets of Tucson and Juarez. She has experience in television production, experimental media, journalism, performance, socially engaged art, community organizing, music and painting. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in art and Spanish. She was born and raised in Arizona.
ABOUT HER PERFORMANCE
Heather Gray’s performance “Unbinding the Sunbelt” combines ritual actions with original sound and video art to loosen the knotted myths of her family’s migration to Arizona during of the “Sunbelt Boom”—a mass migration to urban centers in the southwest during the 1950’s-80’s. The boom was designed by powerful interests who marketed the region as a sunny new territory within the white spatial imaginary. The population growth was enabled by building enormous water and power infrastructure projects that dramatically changed the land, watersheds, atmosphere, and climate within two short generations. Using embattled elements of the earth in this ritual: Black Mesa coal, Santa Cruz clay, and Colorado river water, she charts this transformation in her body by alchemizing her relationship to herself and her home.
Answers From The Artists
What inspires you to create art?
Since I was tiny, I have told stories, made music, and created images. Art is the shape of my thoughts and actions. I have always been intellectually curious about a broad range of things, but a central theme for me has been exploring where I come from and my relationship to where I live because Arizona is such a complex, stunning, inspiring, devastating, and beautiful place to grow up.
What is your favorite art medium and why?
I enjoy combining mediums to create artistic experiences. Technology helps me do many things myself: visuals, sound art, performance, and stage design. I paint, sculpt, draw, shoot video and make field audio recordings to use as source material. I process images and video for projection with Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects and VDMX. I use Ableton Live to compose and perform music and sound art. I enjoy designing and building stages and scenic environments. It took me many years of exploring each of these mediums individually before I could combine them all, and even still, my work still involves a lot of collaborators. I try to focus on the intention of the work and not get too lost in the tech. I am always inspired by the many performance artists I have worked with over the years who elegantly use the greatest creative tool we all possess: our bodies.
What is the impact of art for or with community?
I love that art, ceremony and magic are by their nature abundant and generative. Art can help us process loss and trauma, strengthen us spiritually, and connect us to our creative source.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you particularly excited about?
Of course I am very excited about sharing space with many powerful artists in Female Migrations. I am excited about presenting my first solo work in a long time. I will be expanding the sound aspect of this piece into a solo music project in the coming year. I am super excited about writing and producing music, and continuing to include all these other art forms in that project.