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In Praise of Fragmentation

May 5 - June 24, 2023

Things break. My project, In Praise of Fragmentation, considers a landscape awash in fragments. In fact, the everyday functioning of our global economy is dependent on things breaking, namely. “planned obsolescence”. I consider my work an aesthetic investigation into the “culture of breakage” and its consequent philosophical implications. I recontextualize broken things as the basis for new sculptural forms. My process blurs conventional distinctions between the manufactured and crafted, combining industrial and handmade tactics. I use both traditional and experimental materials; found forms are re-made and in glass, gold, porcelain, resin, and wood.


In early 2022, I found a four-inch porcelain shard in the Mojave Desert. Its contours are unmistakable; it is from a toilet unceremoniously abandoned in the middle of nowhere. This unremarkable shard has become an ersatz conceptual totem for my project. I have invited an archaeologist, forensic scientist, writer, anthropologist and museum registrar to scrutinize and study this shard. Each participant will exercise the normative models of their discipline in “interpreting” the shard. I will design and fabricate sculptural constructions in response to each participant’s findings.

About Heidi Schwegler:

Heidi Schwegler explores a wide range of materials in the service of her subject matter. Drawn to the peripheral ruin, she deftly incorporates found objects with traditional craft and sculpture media. “When [an object] is no longer contextualized by function and ownership, the discarded thing's anonymity and ambiguity render it pervious to the imagination,” she says, approaching such things as a source of investigation. “I consider its formal qualities as raw material – but a very particular raw material that is both new and an indicator of past use, past value, and past purpose.”


Schwegler’s accolades include an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission, Hallie Ford Fellowship and two MacDowell Colony Fellowships in the Visual Arts. She was artist-in-residence at MacDowell, Pilchuck, VCCA, Yaddo, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, and Bullseye Glass Company, among others. Notable exhibitions of her work include the 2018 Bellevue Art Museum Biennial, Portland2016: A Biennial of Contemporary Art, curated by Michelle Grabner and presented by Disjecta Contemporary Art Center; her 10-year retrospective, Botched Execution, at The Art Gym at Marylhurst University, OR and the Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln, NE. Schwegler holds a BFA from the University of Kansas and MFA from the University of Oregon. She divides her time between Portland, OR andresides full time in Yucca Valley, CA where she is the founding director of Yucca Valley Material Lab. Her sculptural work is in the permanent collection of the Portland Art Museum currently on view in the Hoffman Galleries of the Northwest Art wing), the Crocker Museum and the Hallie Ford Museum. Learn more at

Heidi Schwegler

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