Suffolk artist wins solo exhibition – The Suffolk News-Herald
Heather Nygaard won a solo art exhibition at the Suffolk Art Gallery after taking first place in the annual Suffolk Art League exhibition in 2020.
Her exhibition, “Life As I Know It”, is currently presented with a collection of oil paintings that show the themes of healing, motherhood and the imagination.
“This body of work explores mental health in the eyes of a single mother,” Nygaard said. “With so much that has changed over the past year, how can I help them navigate the world when I’m having trouble figuring out how to navigate it on my own? “
Many themes can be traced back to the COVID-19 pandemic and other events in 2020. For example, the winning painting that won him this exhibition, “Sentinel 1”, shows a young boy with a water pistol in front of a forest on fire. According to Nygaard, she painted this during the wildfires that ravaged Australia. Other themes for the year include multiple portraits of masked faces.
Other themes on display include rebirth, with paintings of phoenixes and their feathers. Another is the childhood and imagination shown through unicorns. The unicorn skeletons represent a trauma that ended the innocence of Nygaard’s childhood too soon. However, the dead or mostly alive unicorns show that bit of childhood that returns as she brings up her three children.
“I’m really proud of her and doing everything I can to get her the recognition she deserves,” said Meghan Rose, Nygaard’s sister. “She is an inspiration to me to be a single mother of three and to do this exhibit while taking care of the children. It encourages me to do the things I want to do, and it makes me look easy. She has always supported me in my music and modeling career, so I want to do the same for her.
The family that proudly supports Nygaard can be seen as the models for his paintings. The paintings of people include self-portraits, her supportive sister, and her three children. Nygaard has worked with other models in the past, but it was easier and more appropriate to use the family around her for this show.
“The paintings are very introspective of my life,” she said. “Even though these events affect all the children, I have to navigate just for my own.”
This is not the first recognition that Nygaard receives for his art. She placed second nationally for a PTA art competition at Lakeland High School when she was in grade 10. In addition, she won more modest competitions, including first place for her Mr. Peanut sidewalk chalk art at the Peanut Fest, and received the jury prize in 2019. She also received scholarships for her art, notably the Helen and Richard Parker scholarship in art history. and the Charles K. Sibley Art Fellowship.
The themes of growth and unexpected results of his paintings can be seen in his journey to fall in love with art. Nygaard did not always like painting. She was originally pursuing a studio art degree when she tried painting for a class and was awful and hated it. Then her professor at Old Dominion University told Nygaard that she would be a great painter. She tried again and fell in love with it.
In 2018, she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting. Today, she carries out oil painting and watercolor commissions, painting now being her passion and her career.
“I am very excited and nervous for this exhibition,” Nygaard said. “I’m just so grateful to the people in my life who have helped me get to where I am in my life.”
“Life As I Know It” is on display until August 20 at the Suffolk Art Gallery, 118 Bosley Ave.