Heidi Ettinger

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“Avalanche – Heidi Ettinger

The inspiration for this series of landscapes and Dioramas of Disaster came from the William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming”.:

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre; The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loose upon the world.”

In the first stanza, Yeats describes a world beyond chaos and so out of control that it is doomed by terrifying and unimaginable forces. Looking at traditional pastoral landscapes, it is with the sure knowledge that their reassuring calm is temporary. Ettinger is engaged in creating images of the nightmares they will inevitably become. The inexorable transformations of our weather systems warn us that our relationship with nature in the future will be one of threat and extreme danger, rather than contemplation and peace.

These images present the transformation of the landscape into something violent and dramatic, a reflection of the instability of our times. In the Dioramas of Disaster, the viewer stands safely outside of the glass case, falsely reassured by his distance from the natural disaster depicted within. The formality of the framework recalls the comfort and familiarity of a childhood visit to the Museum of Natural History, where the viewer  could observe the natural world from a safe remove while clutching a parental hand. These delusions of safety are dissolved as we watch, as the turbulence within begins to leak through the barrier and into the space around us.

Heidi Ettinger began her training in painting and theatrical set design as an undergraduate at Occidental College, culminating in a Master’s degree from the Yale School of Drama. She went on to become the first woman to win a Tony Award for set design. The dramatic landscape and maquette diorama in this show, much of it completed as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome, draw heavily on her theatrical experience.

Her work for the stage has been cited for its use of highly charged metaphorical dreamscapes,  certainly in evidence in this diorama series which she has constructed from found materials. Ettinger has won a total of three Tonys, been nominated for seven, and has also received an  Obie, Drama Desk and Outer Critics awards, and the Ruth Morley design award. Her work has been exhibited at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut , and at the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts in New York City. Her work is in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York.

 

 

In the first stanza, Yeats describes a world beyond chaos and so out of control that it is doomed by terrifying and unimaginable forces. Looking at traditional pastoral landscapes, it is with the sure knowledge that their reassuring calm is temporary. Ettinger is engaged in creating images of the nightmares they will inevitably become. The inexorable transformations of our weather systems warn us that our relationship with nature in the future will be one of threat and extreme danger, rather than contemplation and peace.

These images present the transformation of the landscape into something violent and dramatic, a reflection of the instability of our times. In the Dioramas of Disaster, the viewer stands safely outside of the glass case, falsely reassured by his distance from the natural disaster depicted within. The formality of the framework recalls the comfort and familiarity of a childhood visit to the Museum of Natural History, where the viewer  could observe the natural world from a safe remove while clutching a parental hand. These delusions of safety are dissolved as we watch, as the turbulence within begins to leak through the barrier and into the space around us.

Heidi Ettinger began her training in painting and theatrical set design as an undergraduate at Occidental College, culminating in a Master’s degree from the Yale School of Drama. She went on to become the first woman to win a Tony Award for set design. The dramatic landscape and maquette diorama in this show, much of it completed as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome, draw heavily on her theatrical experience.

Her work for the stage has been cited for its use of highly charged metaphorical dreamscapes,  certainly in evidence in this diorama series which she has constructed from found materials. Ettinger has won a total of three Tonys, been nominated for seven, and has also received an  Obie, Drama Desk and Outer Critics awards, and the Ruth Morley design award. Her work has been exhibited at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut , and at the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts in New York City. Her work is in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York.