Hot-wiring the heart

Mixed media artist offers a heartfelt message

Kendra Herring has a thing for hearts. The shape and size and texture of the blood-pumping vessel intrigues her, but mostly, she's fascinated by all the emotions the heart represents.

"I'm essentially trying to develop the different facets of it, everything from love to the cynical aspect, beauty, risk and fragility," Herring says.


Thad Allender/Journal-World Photo

Lawrence Artist Kendra Herring sits amongst her multi-media art display "Hot-wire My Heart: It Stopped and Won't Start" at The Bourgeois Pig, 6 E. Ninth St. The installation lines two walls and includes heart-shaped boxes, religious artifacts and neon lights.

Her interest has led her into what might be deemed a lifetime work of creating various mixed-media art pieces to represent the human heart.

"It's the shape I'm attracted to. I'm obsessed with symmetry and working with it thematically and conceptually," she adds.

And is she ever. Her latest show, "Hot-wire My Heart: It Stopped and Won't Start," is on display now through April at The Bourgeois Pig, 6 E. Ninth St. All 34 of the works featured revolve around the heart concept. It's a project she's been working on for more than a decade.

Herring uses anything and everything for her assembled pieces, and the works can be quite striking, even potentially shocking. She likes to scavenge for items that catch her eye, and many of the individual items that most people might consider trash become part of her art pieces.

"I use a lot of found objects, including tin, wood, bottle caps, matches, firecrackers � a little bit of everything," she says.

Her latest show is literally hot-wired together, as she powers the display by lighting it up with electricity.

What: "Hot-wire My Heart: It Stopped and Won't Start" artwork by Kendra HerringWhen: Now through AprilWhere: The Bourgeois Pig, 6 E. Ninth St.Information: 843-7191

For Herring, the creative process is a part of her daily life, and along with this ongoing heart project; she works on other conceptual pieces and readies herself for upcoming shows. She spends a lot of time in her own studio, fashioning the various items.

"I'm always working on more than one thing. I'm collecting things, making ornamental decor, cutting wood and doing different stuff," she says.

She's also making a living in the art world by hiring herself out as a studio assistant to another local artist. Herring wants art to be more than a hobby; she wants it to be a part of her every waking moment.

"I'm trying to make a go of it just making art," she says.

Herring holds a bachelor's degree of fine arts in painting from Portland, Oregon's Northwest College of Art, but she eschewed the larger West Coast city to move to Lawrence last August and pursue her craft. The buzz in Portland was that Lawrence was a supportive home for new artists looking for a break.

"I was really looking for a place with a lot of art and music, but that still had a small-town community feel to it. A friend of mine moved down here and told me about it, so I moved down," she recalls.

For every heart art show that she does, Herring looks for a place to display her work around Valentine's Day each year. And she always creates new work for each annual show. By laboring extensively on the project, she was able to make the three dozen for-sale art pieces in about five weeks for this latest display. Now she's working on several other ideas, including an upcoming group show in Wisconsin and another solo show, along with designing book and CD covers for local writers and musicians.

"I always seem to have several projects going on," Herring says.


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