Mary Beth Heffernan earned her BFA at Boston University and her MFA in the Photography Program at California Institute of the Arts. She is currently Associate Professor of Sculpture, Photography and Interdisciplinary Art at Occidental College where she maintains a studio. Heffernan was the recipient of the 2010 COLA Individual Artist Fellowship, and her work has been supported by grants from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, the Durfee Foundation and Light Work. Her work has been exhibited widely at public and private institutions including the University of the Pacific; Idyllwild Institute of the Arts; Pasadena City College Art Gallery; High Desert Test Sites; LA Municipal Art Gallery; San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts; Torrance Art Museum; White Columns and Saide Bronfman Center for the Arts. Heffernan’s work is included in numerous private and public collections, including the UCLA/Hammer Museum; Light Work of Syracuse, NY; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and New York City Library. In May 2016 Heffernan was selected as the recipient of the very first PAC/LA Contemporary Artist Grant.



September 27, 2015
In Mesmerizing Photograms, a Ghostly Dance of Metaphors
By: Leah Ollman

Photographer and sculptor Mary Beth Heffernan has had an abiding interest in skin -- as identifying surface, as delimiting membrane and as evocative metaphor.

In "Blue," her mesmerizing series of cyanotype photograms at Sloan Projects in Santa Monica, a man's suit and a woman's dress are the skins in play. These spectral garments are surrogate souls, characters in a dance both intimate and emblematic.

Heffernan excised the suit's solids, leaving only the seams, and she had the dress made from diaphanous fabric. For the 10 pieces in the 2011 series (five are on view here) she posed the clothing on 8-foot-high sheets of photo-sensitive paper.

Light darkened the surrounding areas to a luscious deep blue and seeped through the thin gown, yielding images of white, frayed-edge skeleton entwined with slithery ghost.

The dress reads as aqueous -- a drifting jellyfish -- one moment and a fragile, rumpled spirit the next. The suit's postures bring to mind Robert Longo's 1979 drawings of "Men in the Cities," frozen with backs arched and limbs akimbo.

In one piece, the personages unite in a twisted jumble, a cyclone down the length of the sheet. The "Blue" series resonates as well with the power of Floris Neusüss' full-body photograms, tempered by the delicacy of Anna Atkins' mid-19th century cyanotypes of botanical and aquatic specimens.

Heffernan makes especially poetic use of the photogram's nature as physical trace, akin here to sloughed-off skin.



1995       Studio Program, Whitney Independent Study Program, New York, NY
1994       MFA, Photography, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA
1987       BFA, Graphic Design, Boston University, Boston, MA, Magna Cum Laude


2015      Blue, Sloan Projects, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, CA.
              PPE Portrait Project, A social practice intervention at the invitation of Dr. Moses Massaquoi, Chair,
              Ebola Case Management, Liberia
              ELWA 2 Ebola Treatment Unit, Montserrado County, Tubmanburg Ebola Treatment Unit, Bomi County, 
              National Mandingo Caucus of Liberia Ambulance Team, Montserrado County
2011        Parks Exhibition Center, Idyllwild Arts Academy, Idyllwild, CA. 
2008      Replete and Soldier's Skin: Considering Masculinity and Loss, Orange Coast College Art and Photography Galleries.
2007      The Soldier's Skin, Pasadena City College Art Gallery, Pasadena, CA, 
2005       Field, Reynolds Gallery Projects, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA.
2004      KnifeKiss, Nelson Gallery, Pasadena City College, Pasadena, CA.
2003       Knife: New Works, Lamson & Goodnow, Shelburne Falls, MA.
2002       Knife and Corpus Inductum, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA.
2000      The Replete Series, The Mill at Shady Lea, North Kingston, RI.
1998        The Becoming Series, The Mill at Shady Lea, North Kingston, RI.
1995        Becoming, Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica, CA.
1993        The Mythology of the Nude: (Re)examining Identity, Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts, Idyllwild, CA.
1992        The Mythology of the Nude: (Re)examining Identity, Sushi Performance and Visual Art, San Diego, CA.
                The Mythology of the Nude: (Re)examining Identity, The University of Alabama Photography Gallery, Tuscaloosa, AL.
                Stereotypes, Icons and Ideology, Enigma Gallery, San Diego, CA.


2015       Monster Drawing Rally, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA.
2014       Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock auction fundraiser exhibition,
2013       Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock auction fundraiser exhibition
2012       Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock auction fundraiser exhibition
2011        Hot Town, 323 Projects, (323) TIE-IN-LA., Sound installation collaboration with Bruno Louchouarn
               Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock auction fundraiser exhibition.
2010       N/either Swords N/or Plowshares: Functional F/utilities, Cerritos College Art Gallery, Norwalk, CA.
               City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Individual Artist Fellowship Award Exhibition (COLA), 
               Barnsdale Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.
2009      Repair Shop. A Day in LA: Washington Boulevard Art Concert, 11 October 2009
                Art of the Everyday. , Bathhouse Cultural Center, Dallas, TX, Visual Arts Gallery, at University of Texas-Dallas.
2008      Tattoos and Personal Expression, Branigan Cultural Center, Las Cruces, NM.
                Intersection 2008, Contemporary Art for the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock.
2007       Monster Drawing Rally, Contemporary Art at the Women’s Twentieth Century Club. Los Angeles, CA.
                First Kiss, Monte Vista Projects, Los Angeles, CA.
                It Figures, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA.
                The Book of Lies, Volumes I, II & III, 18th Street Art Center, Los Angeles, CA.
                Art Paper’s 8th Annual Art Auction exhibition, Mason Murer Fine Art, Atlanta, GA.
2006      Rosebowl Flea Market Biennale, Pasadena, CA.
                High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms, CA.
                Bronco Swapmeet Biennale, a Project on Mercantilism and Society, El Paso, TX.
2004       Con.Text., Neighborhood Church Chapel, Pasadena, CA.
                Corpus Inductum, in Anxiety and Desire: A Photographic Map of the Psyche., Center for the Visual Arts, Denver, CO.
                Valentine, Richard Nelson Gallery, University of California, Davis.
                Mail-In, London Street Projects, Los Angeles, CA.
2002       Faculty Exhibition, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA. 
2001       The Replete Series, The Wheeler Gallery, Providence, RI. 
1999       Faculty Biennial, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
1998       The Book of Lies, Dirt Gallery, Hollywood, CA.
               The Book of Lies, The Living Room, Santa Monica, CA.
               The Book of Lies, Biola University, Los Angeles, CA.
               The Book of Lies, Bobbie Greenfield Gallery, Santa Monica, CA.
1997       The Book of Lies, Pozzo Pozzozza Gallery, Berlin, Germany.
               Home Life, Amelie Wallace Gallery, SUNY College at Old Westbury, NY.
               The Fold Series, Light Work Gallery, Syracuse, NY.
               Flesh!, Thomas Barry Fine Arts, Minneapolis, MN.
               (In)discreet Pictures, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA.
                In the Pocket: American Art in the 90s, Galerie am Moelkersteig, Vienna, Austria.
1996        Syracuse University Faculty Exhibition, Lowe Art Gallery, Syracuse, NY.
                Current Fictions, San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA.
                 In the Pocket: American Art in the ‘90s, Steirischer Herbst ‘96, Raum fur Kunst, Graz, Austria.
                Photography in the 1990’s CD-ROM, Wright State University Art Gallery, Dayton, OH. 
                White Columns Benefit and Silent Auction Exhibition, New York, NY.
                Third Annual Miracle on 18th Street, Side Street Projects, Santa Monica, CA.
1995         Strange Fruits, Re:Solution Gallery at Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies, Los Angeles, CA.
                 National Showcase IV, Alternative Museum, New York, NY.
                 Open Studio, Whitney Independent Study Program, New York, NY.
                 Alter Image, 450 Broadway Gallery, New York, NY.
                 Staging: The Prefabricated Image, Saide Bronfman Center for the Arts, Montreal, 
                 Quebec and San Diego State University Art Gallery, San Diego, CA.
1994         D.I.Y., White Columns, New York, NY, Curated by Director Paul Ha
                 The Hot Crop, The Claremont Graduate School Art Gallery, Claremont, CA
                 Becoming, MFA Thesis Exhibition, Temporary Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA
                 Kahn Arts Festival, Boston University Cadillac Building Gallery, Boston, MA
                 Community Art Partnership Faculty and Student Installation, CHCG Architects, Pasadena, CA
                 Eighth Annual Benefit Art Auction and Exhibition, Sushi Gallery, San Diego, CA
                 Beaux Art Fundraising Auction Exhibition, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
1993         Pasadena, A Photographic Exploration, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA
                 All Dressed Up and Someplace to Go (or Culturally Cross-dressed), San Diego State University, San Diego and Calexico, CA campuses
                 Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies Art Sale Exhibition Event, Los Angeles, CA. 
                 Seventh Annual Benefit Art Auction and Exhibition Event, Sushi Gallery, San Diego, CA
1992         Creating Ourselves, Eastern New Mexico University Art Gallery, Portales, NM.
1989         Kahn Arts Festival, Boston University Art Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts, Catalog
1988         Works in Progress, University of Massachusetts Medical School Gallery, Worcester, MA
                 ArtWorcester, Grove Street Gallery, Worcester, MA


2015       Arnold P. Gold Foundation Presidential Grant
2010      City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Individual Artist’s Fellowship (COLA Award) 
2007      Durfee Foundation Artist’s Resource Completion Grant.
2003      Lamson & Goodnow Mfg. Co., Residency and Materials Grant
1997       Light Work Grant, Light Work, Syracuse, NY
1994       Olson/Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies Photo-Material Grant
1987        Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Scholarship Fund for the Arts
                Stein Award for Highest Academic Achievement, Boston University, Boston, MA
                Royal Society of the Arts Silver Medal, Boston University, Boston, MA


2015     "The PPE Portrait Project.", The Artist in Times of Crisis panel, 
              Villa Aurora Residency 20th Anniversary Program, Pacific Palisades, CA
2015      "Studio Visit: 20 Years of Photographic Practice, or, How Photography's Conundrums Serve Mine.", 
              Photographic Arts Council, Los Angeles, CA
2015      "Ebola Ninjas and Portrait Labels: How "social practice" art tackled a vexing problem of EVD treatment", 
              Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA
2014     “Heartland/Foreign Land: Arial Photography, Landscape and the Body.", Military Visuality and the Work of Art Symposium, 
             Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA, Organized by Dr. Ari Laskin
2012      SOCiAL: Art + People Symposium, “Can the Sidewalk be a Stage?”, Freewaves, 
              Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA, a-fall-2012/ 
2011       Collaboration: Art and Process Panel, MorYork Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, 
              With Julie Deamer, Director, Outpost for Contemporary Art, Moderated by Sherry Sonnett
2011       Visiting Artist Lecture, Idyllwild Arts Academy
2010      Studio Visit Lecture, MOCA Contemporaries
2008      Knife Body for “Food for Art”, Organized by Prof. Mimi Hellman, Art History Department, Skidmore College, 
               National peer-reviewed panel, College Art Association’s 96th Annual Conference
2007      “The Soldier’s Skin.”, Discipline and War Symposium, Occidental College, Organized by Anthony Chase and Mary Beth Heffernan. 
2006      “The Artist, The Soldier, His Wife and Her Lover: The Intimate Scale of Mourning the Iraq War.”, 
                Society for Photographic Education/West Conference, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA, Regional peer-reviewed conference
2005       Artist’s Talk, in conjunction with the Field installation, Reynolds Gallery Project space, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA, 
                By invitation of Gallery Director Rico Reyes. 
2004       Artist’s Talk, in conjunction with the Anxiety and Desire exhibition, 
                Center for Visual Arts, Metropolitan State College of Denver, Denver, CO, By invitation of curator Prof. Clare Cornell
2004       Corpus Inductum in “Horrible Beauty: Ugly Truths”, Panel Chair and Artist’s Talk, 
                Society for Photographic Education/West Regional Conference, Pasadena, CA, Regional peer-reviewed conference
2004       “Artist’s Strategies of Substitution and the Rhetoric of Photographic Evidence.”, 
                Paper presented in the “Photography and the Abject Panel,” College Art Association’s 92nd Annual Conference,
                Seattle, WA, National peer-reviewed conference
2004       “Wild Hair,” reading for “Love Stories and Erotic Tales: Rowdy Tops and Bossy Bottoms.”, New American Writing Series,
                Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA, Original essay written for this event, Curated by Benjamin Weisman
2003       Artist in Residence, Created “Knife”installations, performed lecture, interviews, 
                Lamson & Goodnow, Shelburne Falls, MA, By invitation of Kurt Zanner, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. 
2003       “Memorializing the Unimaginable”, Session Chair, Studio Art Open Session, 
                College Art Association’s 91st Annual Conference, New York, NY
2003       “K is for Knife”, New American Writing Series, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA, 
               Original poem, Curated by Benjamin Weisman
2001      Studio Critiques, Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
1999      Visiting Artist Lecture and Studio Critiques, Graduate Photography Program, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
1999      Visiting Artist Lecture, Undergraduate Photography Program, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
1996      American Art in the 1990’s; Lecture and Roundtable Discussion, Raum fur Kunst, Graz, Austria
1996      Visiting Artist Lecture, The Camera and the Body Class (Prof. Jennifer Gonzalez), 
              Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
1995       Visiting Artist Lecture, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
1993       Visiting Artist Lecture and Workshop, Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts
1993       Questioning the Construction of Gender Identity Through Art Lecture, 
               San Diego State University, Imperial Valley Campus, Calexico, CA
1992       Artwork featured in The Power of Re-Presentation: Women’s Voices in the Visual Arts, 
               Southeastern Women’s Studies Conference, Tampa, FL
1988       Works in Progress Lecture, Clark University, Worcester, MA
1987        Visiting Artist Lecture, Boston University Summer Visual Art Institute, Boston, MA


Schain, Tiffany. The Adaptable Mind. Let it Ripple: Mobile Films for Global Change. Forthcoming film premiere 18 September 2015. 
Lutz, Tom and Jerry Gorin. "An Artist Intervention in the Ebola Crisis by LARB AV." Los Angeles Review of Books. 30 July 2015.
O'Connor, Mimi. "The Science Behind Why Hope Can Help Heal Us." Huffington Post. 1 June 2015. 
Monzon, Mariasun. "La Sonrisa Del Ébola." Zazpika no: 851. (GARA No. 5902) 17 May 2015. 
Harris-Perry, Melissa. "Putting a Face on the Ebola Workers." The Melissa Harris-Perry Show. MSNBC. 5 May 2015. 
Campbell-Dollaghan, Kelsey. "The Race to Build a Better Suit for Ebola Aid Workers." Gizmodo. 22 April 2015. 
Mallonee, Laura C. "Picturing the People Inside Ebola Hazmat Suits." Hyperallergic. 16 April, 2015.
Zamorano, Abraham. "La fotógrafa que les puso sonrisa a los enmascarados del ébola." BBC Mundo. 15 April 2015. 
Yam, Kimberly. "Artist Creates Quick Fix That Humanizes Ebola Aid Workers Inside Their Intimidating Suits." Huffington Post. 15 April, 2015. 
Will, Madeline. "Alleviating Fear." The Chronicle of Higher Education. 13 April 2015. 
Aizenman, Nurith. "An Artist's Brainstorm: Put Photos on Those Faceless Suits." National Public Radio, All Things Considered. 9 April 2015. 
Dinardo, Perry. "Putting a Face On the Fight Against Ebola." The Arnold P. Gold Foundation. 9 April 2015. 
Heffernan, James A.W. "How Headshots Are Humanizing Ebola Health Care Workers." Huffington Post. 9 April 2015. 
Werman , Marco and Andrea Crossan. "For Ebola Patients, A Way To See The Faces of Those Helping." The World, Public Radio International (PRI). 7 April 2015. 
Wagley, Catherine. "Ebola Suits Look So Scary. So This L.A. Artist Had An Idea." The L.A. Weekly. 6 April 2015.
Frank, Peter. City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship Award Catalog. Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, 2010. 
Carl Kozlowski. “Intriguing Intersection.” Pasadena Weekly. Thursday, June 12. P. 26. 
George, Lynell. “Indelible ink: A photography exhibit shows Marine tattoos as eulogies to the lost.” Los Angeles Times. 27 October 2007 p. 1, pp. E1, E17. Four photos.
Tucker, Brian. "Saving Their Skins." Mary Beth Heffernan - Soldier's Skin. Exhibition catalog. Pasadena City College Art Gallery, 2015. 
Klein, Jennie. “Skin, Text, and Corporeality: Mary Beth Heffernan’s Photography and Installations.” Art Papers 31:1 (January/February) p. 1, pp. 23-25. 
Taft, Catherine.“Just Desert.” Artforum. May 11, 2006. 
Psyched Out: Photo shows at the CVA and CPAC are filled with edgy psychological subject matter. Michael Paglia. Westword (Art Section.) January 6- 12. Volume 28, Number 19. 
Art Space of the Year: Center for Visual Art. Kyle MacMillan. The Denver Post. Sunday, December 26. p. 16F. 
2004  Critic’s Choice: Visual Arts. Kyle MacMillan. The Denver Post. Sunday, December 5th, p. 2F. 
2005  Anxiety and Desire Creep Into Photographs. Debra Malik Demosthenes. Metromode. January. Volume 1 Number 1. 
Photo Show Mines the Mind. Voelz Chandler. The Rocky Mountain News. Friday, November 26. 
Photos dredge up our “Anxiety and Desire.” Kyle MacMillan. The Denver Post. Friday, November 22. 
Anxiety and Desire: A Photographic Map of the Psyche. Tina S. Goodwin. Downtown Denver News. (Staff writer.)
Mary Beth Heffernan, Corpus Inductum. Gastronomica, Summer 4:3, (Univ. of California Press) Photos and artist’s essay. 
Knife video work-in-progress featured in Jennie Klein and Joanna Roche’s “Impossible Cohesions” lecture in the “Performance on the Edge: West Coast Performance in the America’s” panel , 92nd Annual College Art Association Conference, Seattle, WA
Edgy Artist: Sculptor works in local knife factory. Virginia Ray. The Recorder, Friday, August 22, 2003, p. 1. (Photograph) 
Lamson & Goodnow’s Factory Inspires Mary Beth Heffernan. (Staff writer) West County News, August 14-20 issue, pp. 10-11. (Photograph) 
Rebecca Solnit. As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender and Art (University of Georgia Press, 2001) (photographs) 
Rebecca Solnit, The View from Mount Venus - On the Aesthetic of the Exquisite. Art Issues. Summer 1997 (photograph) 
Light Work Grant Recipients, Gary Hesse, Contact Sheet 93 (photographs) 
Critics' Picks: Flesh!; Saint Paul Pioneer Press, June 27, 1977. 
1997 Flesh!; Francis Hwang, City Pages, July 2, 1997
Gallery Roundup: Culturata, Francis Hwang, City Pages, July 9, 1997 (photograph) 
In the Flesh!; Kendra Ramic, Arts and Entertainment, July 16, 1997. (photograph) 
Art Galleries showing diverse collections; Doug Hanson, Variety, July 22, 1997 1997 Survey on Taste. From the Fold Series, Mary Beth Heffernan, Documents, 8 Winter 1997. (photographs)
Current Fictions: Work by Emerging Artist at MoPA, Caroline Koebel, Uptown Newsmagazine, January 1997
Surreality Check: Emerging Artists in Spotlight at MoPA, Neil Kendricks, The San Diego Union Tribune, December 12, 1996
Die 90er Jahre Im Handgepack, Heimo Ranzenbacher, Kronen Zeitung, 16 October 1996 (photographs) 
Positionen: Vier Frauen as L.A., Kathi Hofmann-Sewera, Kleine Zeitung, 19 October 1996
Kalifornisches Damenquartett Kunst im Reisegepack, Annema Happe, Neue Zeit, 20 September 1996
Kunstlerinnen Packen Aus; Ku Im Tachenformat, Von Claudia Taucher, Kleine Zeitung, 29 August, 1996
American Art in the 1990’s and The Becoming Series, discussion aired on Studio 5, Ed. Ernst Grohotolsky, Channel 02, 5:00 -6:00pm 4 October, 1996. Graz, Austria. 
“Staging: The Prefabricated Image” at the University Art Gallery, San Diego State University, Jennie Klein, New Art Examiner, March 1996
Mary Beth Heffernan at Craig Krull Gallery, Claudine Ise, Artweek, November 1995 (Photograph) 
La mise en scene de l’image, Jennifer Couelle, Le Devoir, November 5, 1995 photo), Montreal, Canada. 
Curatorial Magic, Lucinda Catchlove, Hour, Arts and Entertainment, November 23-29 (Photograph). Montreal, Canada. 
Photos stage, not capture, images, Robert L. Pincus, The San Diego Union- Tribune, April 30, 1995
University Unveils Sexy Photo Exhibit, John Scheibe, Imperial Valley Press, February 21, 1993 (Photograph) 
Art in Your Ears, The San Diego Reader, October 8, 1992
Art on Display, The Tuscaloosa News, November 22, 1992 (Photographs) 
Power of ‘nude’ exhibit lies in the images, not in words; Neil Kendricks, The San Diego Union-Tribune, September 24, 1992 (Photograph) 


Armand Hammer Museum at UCLA (The Book of Lies II) 
Light Work, Syracuse, NY
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, (The Book of Lies II) 
New York Public Library (The Book of Lies II) 


2008-2015            Associate Professor, Sculpture, Photography and Interdisciplinary Art Department of Art History and Visual Arts, 
                              Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA
2002-2008          Assistant Professor, Sculpture, Photography and Interdisciplinary Art Department of Art History and Visual Arts, 
                             Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA
2001-2002           Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Fine Arts, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
1998-2001            Adjunct Professor, Art History, Photography, Sculpture, and Graduate Studies Departments, 
                              Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
2000-2001           Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Visual Arts, 
                              Brown University, Providence, RI
1996-1998            Assistant Professor, Art Media Studies Department, 
                             Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 


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