Kelly Heaton

Emerging Fields, 2002

Kelly Heaton is an American artist who explores the mysteries of life, death and God. Her art juxtaposes the natural with the man-made to question what is alive and who is the creator. Heaton builds analog electronic circuits that produce naturalistic sound, light and movement. She often integrates an electronic layer into sculptures and paintings that consequently “do something” for the lifespan of the circuitry. The notion that her artworks will die, at least in part, when the technology decays both fascinates and troubles Heaton—not only for the impact on her art—but for the implications of electronic media in our society. The recurring theme of soul in her artwork reveals a profound optimism in the face of technical obsolescence and biological mortality.

Heaton’s art is characterized by complex narratives that unite her various bodies of work.  Reflection Loop (2001) tells the story of an animatronic toy, Furby, as it undergoes a radical re-engineering from children’s plaything to physical pixel in an interactive artwork.  Live Pelt (2003) documents the unnerving transformation of Tickle Me Elmo dolls as they are purchased from strangers on eBay, dismembered, rewired, assembled into a giggling coat and resold through a New York art gallery.  The Parallel Series (2004 – 2012) presents a hybridization of painting and electrical engineering in multi-dimensional artworks that evoke natural imagery, sound and animated light.

Heaton’s work has been featured in exhibitions in the United States and internationally, including the ADAA Art Show, The Science Gallery at Trinity College, the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, and two solo shows at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.

Her work has been reviewed in numerous publications, including The New York Times, New York Magazine, NY Arts, The Village Voice, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Artnet and Art das Kunstmagazin. She is the recipient of grants from Creative Capital, LEF Foundation, Council for the Arts at MIT, and the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program. In 2001, she won the L’Oreal Promotion Prize in the Art and Science of Color for her research with physical pixels. She has been awarded residencies at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies, Duke University and Art Interactive. Kelly Heaton received her Bachelor of Art degree from Yale University in 1994, and her Master of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000. Kelly Heaton is represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, NY.

Awards and Accomplishments


Heaton has solo exhibition at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts in New York and is featured as a Critic's Pick in New York Magazine