Artist File

April 25, 2023

Artist Spotlight: See Evocative Paintings By Colleen Heslin

In our Artist File column, art advisor Diana Hamm of WK ART shares the artists that have caught her eye.

The Artist: Colleen Heslin’s art defies classification, pushing the boundaries of painting. Working with textiles, she dyes, cuts and stitches to create pieces inspired in equal measure by the Color Field Painting movement — think Agnes Martin and Helen Frankenthaler — and American quilting traditions. Colleen, who lives on traditional Tla’amin territory in qathet, B.C., creates work that enjoys a push-pull between what is often considered “high” and “low” art, exploring both ends of the spectrum with fascination and respect. The end result? Colorful paintings that exude warmth while exploring the artistic process.

The Works: Having studied both painting and photography at Emily Carr University and Concordia University, Colleen has a strong understanding of how art is made. She applies these methods to her current body of work, which makes for a distinct visual language. Each piece starts with fabric, both cotton and linen canvas, that’s hand-dyed in small batches and hung to dry. This develops a surface texture that gives a tactile feel to the piece, once finished. The next step is creating the forms within the work. In a process that lies somewhere between collage and craft, Colleen sews together different strips and bits of fabric to make the painting.

Collecting: Colleen has exhibited extensively across Canada. She’s won numerous awards including the RBC Canadian Painting Competition and the Tanabe Prize for B.C. Painters. Her work is in many major collections across the country such as the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Her works start at $4,000.

Keep scrolling to learn more about her work!