Debbie Hesse is an installation artist, curator and educator Through her mixed media installation art and innovative programmatic initiatives, Hesse brings communities together around social, cultural, political and environmental ideas and issues.
Hesse combines organic and artificial materials and forms with cast shadows to create parallel, hybrid, changing environments that explore ideas about growth, materiality and the ethereal. Recent work has examined seaweed farming and local initiatives that address issues of food security and the environment.
Her interest in growth and change in the natural world informs her creative practice. Nature-inspired synthetic wall constructions fold and play with light and color to comment on what is real or invented reality, finding novel spaces that become their own universe. Color Plexiglas structures, cast shadow, color and light converge to produce infinite possibilties and configurations. Resulting work is both material and immaterial, physical and virtual, static and in flux. Forms are reconfigured into map-like contructions that evoke intimate, celestrial, meditative spaces.
She was awarded a 2016 Regional Project Initiative Grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts and Office of Economic and Community Development, National Endowment of the Arts, in partnership with Shoreline Arts Alliance. She is a recipient of an International Artist in Residence at Hongti Art Center in Busan, South Korea where she researched seaweed cultivation traditions and had a solo exhibition. She has received a Rhode Island Visual Artists Sea Grant Award (2013), Connecticut Visual Artist Sea Grant Award (2010), and a Vermont Studio Residency artist grant. She was Artist-in-Residence at GreenWave, a non-profit sustainability group and artist-in-residence at Weir Farm Historic Site in July 2017. Her work has been exhibited in South Korea, New York, New Mexico and Connecticut.
Hesse holds a B.A. from Smith College, a Masters in Painting and Printmaking from University of New Mexico where she was a fellow at Tamarind Institute of Lithography. She has been a panelist and juror for many arts organizations including the Cultural Affairs Office for the City of New Haven, the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism and the Sea Grant Program at University of Connecticut. She currently serves on boards for the Ball and Socket Factory Arts in Cheshire, CT, New Ely Center of Contemporary Art, Site Projects, and Artspace Visual Arts Committee thru 2012. She was the keynote speaker for the 2016 Connecticut Art Education Alliance fall conference-Lead With Art.