Artist Heather Gordy, it seems, was destined to work with death. "I dissected a lot of things when I was little," she tells us laughing. "My mother thought I was either going to be a mortician, a veterinarian or an artist because I was always dissecting things when I was a kid."
Gordy didn't go to mortuary school and she didn't turn out to be a veterinarian either. She became a visual artist, one who often deals with death in her work.
"I'm intrigued by the cycle of life and death; every creature eventually gives themselves back to the earth. There's something that's both beautiful and tragic in that."
That beauty and tragedy often makes its way on to Gordy's canvases. Not that you can expect to see skeletons or dead animals in her paintings. The meaning of Gordy's work isn't as obvious as that. It's more subtle, more symbolic. And she doesn't expect for viewers to take the same understanding of a painting as she does.
"All of my pieces mean something to me, there's always some element that has a strong meaning. An outsider won't see the same thing as I do and that's fine. Each flower means something different to me; it can also mean something different to anyone else who sees it. If they like [my painting] because it's pretty, that's fine. If it mean something to them, that's great. If they see something in a piece that I wasn't intending, that's good, too."
What She Does: "I tell people I'm a graphic designer by day and a painter by night. Being a graphic designer is about pleasing the client, being a painter is more about pleasing myself. There are very few pieces that I do with the intent of selling them. That's not my first thought when I start a new painting. Most of the stuff I paint is just what I enjoy looking at. If it sells, great, if not, it's one more piece for my wall."
Why She Likes It: "I love painting, I love the messiness of it.
"Painting allows me to slow my brain down. I have way too many idea and bounce from one thing to another. When I'm painting, I don't have to worry about the other 50 million things that I have to do."
There are two phases in painting that Gordy especially enjoys. "I love planning. I'm a big planner. I plan down to the details. And then I love adding the finishing touches. When I'm must about finished with something, that's fun for me too."
What Inspires Her: "I want to draw my ideas from as many places as possible. I can be inspired by many things, a person a song, a photograph or a book, from all sorts of sources really. It could be a quarter on the side of the road and I could find inspiration there."
If Not This, Then What: "I would love to be a veterinarian. I have a love for animals. It's something I've always been interested in. I considered going to school to be a veterinarian but I ended up at art school."
If Not Here, Then Where: "That's a tough question. I like the culture here. This is the place where I first started showing my work. Honestly, I couldn't see myself outside of Houston right now."
What's Next: Gordy has a week-long exhibition coming up in late February. It's "Of Dreams and Realities: Heather Gordy and Vincent Fink" and will be at the East End Studio Gallery. Fink is a long-time friend and like Gordy, an alum of the Art Institute of Houston.
"Other than that, I don't have any plans for exhibits or shows anytime soon. I'm working but not the intent of putting together an exhibit. I want to focus on creating, rather than showing right now, especially because I'm changed my style in the last year. I'm sure something will come up later or next year, but as of right now I really just want to do is focus on creating a good, solid body of work."
See "Of Dreams and Realities: Heather Gordy and Vincent Fink" at 6 to 9 p.m. Feb 21 and 28. East End Studio Gallery, 708 Telephone Road. For information, call 713-363-0054 or visit eestudiogallery.com. Free.
More Creatives for 2014 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Mark Nasso, comic artist Shelbi-Nicole, artist Marian Szczepanski, novelist Jonathan Blake, fashion designer Doni Langlois, interior designer Kat Denson, dancer Blame the Comic, comedian Margaret Menchaca Alvarez, artist Jacquelyne Jay Boe, dancer Rene Fernandez, painter Teresa Chapman, choreographer and dancer
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.