We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather den Uijl and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Heather, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think about risk as a kind of growth mechanism. In a studio practice if you are not willing to take risks your work begins to stagnate; you just reinforce what you already know. Two huge parts of my studio practice involve play and experimentation. Neither of these things work without some element of risk taking. More than before I have been willing to challenge myself and stretch the boundaries of what I am capable of. I wouldn’t be half the painter I am today without a willingness to take risks. There was a time I was much less likely to engage in risky behavior, and my work suffered for it. As I began to open up and accept the uncertainty that comes with experimentation, my work began to change in ways that not only challenged expectations of myself, but of painting. Things grew rapidly and boldly. I allowed myself to take the risk and face the consequences. Sometimes you just have to be willing to let yourself go there, to not hold yourself back. Even if the outcome isn’t what you expected, there is always something valuable to be learned from the experience.  

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

My current work focuses on questions of expectation, open ended-ness, denial, and obliqueness. The paintings are loud, graphic, and attention grabbing; they pull you in to investigate and then offer no end point no conclusion. You are invited to participate in a visual experience. Throughout my work are constant elements of play and experimentation while remaining thoughtful, clever, and intentional. I see this expectation to put all the cards on the table, to put all of the information out there and show your whole hand. I want to be more elusive than that, I don’t want to give everything away. Just little glimpses here and there that hint at a promise of something concrete, but never deliver.

Getting to this point in my career required a great amount of hard work and dedication, but all the work, time, and effort is worthwhile and fulfilling. I’ve been able to overcome many obstacles by being flexible, adaptable, and open minded. It has allowed me to rise the occasion in order to meet the many challenges that have faced me. My tenacity and natural curiosity have carried me far.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One of my favorite spots in the entire city is Southside Espresso in Montrose. Prior to covid, I would spend most of my free time there enjoying great coffee and company. Other must do activities would include the Menil Collection, the Rothko Chapel, the MFAH, the CAM, the Station Museum, and the Lawndale. 

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’ve been really fortunate to have some really amazing peers and faculty behind me at various times throughout my career. I wouldn’t be where I am now without them. I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for all of the time, advice, and patience these people have shown me. In particular, thank you to Urias, Annie, and Leo. Thank you to my graduate school committee and to my peers in the class of 2020. I am continually humbled and encouraged by their support.

Website: https://heatherdenuijl.pb.studio/
Instagram: @heatherdenuijl

Image Credits
Heather den Uijl

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