These are excerpts from an essay written by Heidel Vietze upon her final portfolio presentation at the Parsons School of Design in 2000.
"The most prominent consciousness these works have is in the frame, the materials, the tradition and color.  I am working from the experience of this void we call life, which keeps me ceaselessly amazed, and mostly overwhelmed.  This process offers me a form of physical/mental escape from the environment that created it.  Cover your eyes| cover your ears| cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze| cover your tracks| cover up| cover your head| covers| coverage| cover the cost| convert| covet| covenant.

The speed of language varies from slow to light speed; the speed of comprehension varies as well.  Not everything was meant to be known right now.  We do not have all the understanding.  Sometimes we decide an answer before its time.  Just because we have a question doesn't mean we have the answer or even the means to have the answer.

My perceptions are in constant flux, wanting to understand what is true, wondering if what I think, I know is true.  Looking to a certain extent, to see if anyone agrees.  Are these ideas relevant?  Will they be relevant tomorrow?  Are they coherent?  Separately and at once?  Can you identify them?  Interested in bringing your own experience to this plane?

These works symbolically unite these separations which are perceived to be different.  Yet are not.  I have put them in the same frame because they exist within my physical/mental frame this way, turn the frame upside down and a new reality emerges.  This is not an attempt to be clever, but a representation that both are true, dependent on the receiver.  In one instance this is a landscape and in the next a portrait; geographic and then a figure is more liable.  However these two are hardly different and rely on the scope of one's own "lens".  Is the image a cross section or an aerial view?  It is both.  Are you looking at an image from the outside or are you inside the image looking out?  Where am I?  I am in both places and will not commit to a singular position in the painting.  The content should naturally reference more than one thing and be open to many interpretations.  Duality squared or cubed or to the tenth power.   This is only with the final image, for there are many stories underneath and have in turn made that final image.  The best way to articulate this position is to refer to an ancient text, published in The Nag Hammadi Library in English titled "The Thunder:  Perfect Mind" which is introduced and translated by George W. Macrae and which acts continually as solace to my experience.

Essentially this work spawns from the desire to reconnect the mind, body and soul and give them a place to exist as one or a forum for them to communicate with each other.  A place where I can meet myself without the intense defense systems and operations of self-sabotage working their miracles.  A place to be boldly vulnerable.  From painting I receive clarity, I recognize myself better than a mirror.  I recognize my thoughts and vision.  I do not have immediate access to much of the knowledge I store.  This is a frustrated existence.  A frustration which is temporarily alleviated by a finished work.  When the work is right, I feel at peace with my internal war - with language and conveying what I know and understand.

The shape of a surface is its own frame.  It confines itself for separate consideration.   It pauses our visual pattern.   It is rooted in reality, but does not look realistic.  It is an image or an object that isn't selling anything but itself and might not be aware of it.  It is a point of observation and is not trying to conform or manipulate the viewer.  I do not tend to gravitate toward to squares and rectangles; from miniature (1x1) to medium (42x42).  Slowly I am working on larger surfaces and smaller ones step by step.  Suddenly a painting I considered large looks small and I take a step larger.  Toward smallness, I do not consciously decide, I find some little piece of cardboard or wood and it stays its own size but then might form a group.  The size and shape refer or relate to the size of my body or my hand.  For practical reasons of being able to stretch a canvas by myself.  The preparation cannot be monumentous.  It has to be within reasonable proximity to daily movements.  At least for now.  I like a painting to be physically heavy: fat stretchers (though I would like them to be even fatter) the thickest canvas I can afford or buy.  Even so, the image and surface are fragile; the surface should have intrigue of its own.  This is part of the visual information you should consider as content.

I find myself being attracted to a certain material or combinations of materials.  Things that I can control or manipulate, identify with or contradict.  Things not too technical.  I am not searching for methods out of my reach to execute some grand idea.  I am more inclined to find the idea (s) within the process of working with the materials.  Painting is not a natural reflex of mine.  Inherently I collect, doodle, decorate, arrange (words, sounds, objects) envision color and color combinations and infiltrate space.  Painting does use each of these tendencies.  An idea is just an excuse to start.  The larger ideas and interpretations grow on top of each other, affirming and canceling the previous marks and/or ideas until there is nothing more to be canceled.  The history of philosophy shows a separation into two great streams:  metaphysics, which builds up constructions of the mind; and critical philosophy, which tears them down, often in an attempt to return focus to direct experience."  There is some kind of order which is natural to my person.  Whether it is interior, audio, line, shape, color, or texture.  There is some language I utilize but did not invent.  In this language I can articulate many things at once without the trappings of words.  I want my work to have physical and psychic weight.  It feels appropriate because they are bound to the earth sphere, bound by gravity, bound to their content, bound to my psyche and bound to my experience, which is not unique.  Something is being responded to.  These images/objects are not coming from my imagination, but from my experience translated through language that creates its own aesthetic.  This response cannot be easy.  It must test my essence each time.  There must be a struggle.  For me the struggle is the beauty, whether it be emotional, physical, financial, eternal.  Maybe it is not beautiful, but it must have a presence of its own and be able to stand gracefully.  I see the works as attractive and this relies heavily on color.  Recognizing my own attraction to these pieces on one level satisfies me and on other level scares me:  do I want to create beauty queens?  Am I trying to seduce the viewer?  Am I being cheap in order to get you to look?  Are they educated prostitutes?  Manet's "Olympia" not only reports on the woman's role as a prostitute but also on painting/art as a prostitute.  These are unresolved issues for me.

The youngest of four in a single floor three-bedroom house, never felt small, but one did have a closer relationship to the house's décor.  Furniture was active and nothing was left unused.  Your belongings had to be somewhat orderly and if you collected random things, you had to be creative about your orderliness.  I collected things as if to prepare myself in case of amnesia - I guess this is a result of an early "Days of Our Lives" trauma!

The original structure and decor had colonial and Shaker meets the Kennedys on a budget type of influence and symbolizes something I don't yet understand.  I only recognize its importance in retrospect.  When I was in the 5th or 6th grade my mom started directing its renovation.  The entire interior was transformed by the stucco (* joint compound) in a flattened texture and all the corners and edges were rounded out.  It was a gorgeous transformation and a new source of pride.

After high school I worked with a community service organization for a year.  In the dead of winter my service team was renovating abandoned houses in east Boston.  The joint compound was so cold it was unbearable.  However, the texture and application process was magical; I could not wait to find my own use for this material.  Only later did I connect this substance with the transformation of my childhood home and it its use of patching cracks and holes in walls.  Several years later it has found its way into my paintings; giving a wink and a nod to fresco.  It started as a type of erasure and then as a surface that can be dug into and excavated.  The stories and colors under the surface were dug out, using the past to create the present image.  Something of a cryptic "National Geographic", a symbolized biological archetexture.

This surface has never come first, there are several paintings underneath.  Usually there is a part of the painting that is not negotiating well with the other parts, in an attempt to save the painting I use joint compound to erase and start over.  Sometimes that troublesome part takes over the whole surface.  It can then be sanded or dissolved or dug into and painted or not.  I am using oil paint in combination with joint compound, which if not sealed could be counterproductive in making an image.  I use oil paint.  When I was younger oil paint was the realm of the serious artist, someone who "really knew what they were doing".  It was the medium of the masterpiece.  In the meanwhile I needed to figure out this material and although I was making masterpieces I did discover that I preferred this texture, this mixing, this smell, this color.  I like that it is not plastic and doesn't reflect light, I like that it takes time, it paces itself.  There is a commitment made to seeing it through.  Its expense is its own threat.  "You better mean it."  Then aside from this color and texture etc., I suppose I am making a statement about my own seriousness of either the content of the work or myself or both.

Several years ago, in a meeting, bored, I started tearing up loose tape and making people out of it.  This was fun and painless and it wasn't drawing so I did not have to worry whether I was being judged or not.  It was its own mark, I was just arranging it.  Tape which I used to decorate letters and wrap gifts found new levels of achievement in these two fields.  I wanted the receiver to love the things I sent in the mail, I wanted my gift to be the first one you open from the pile.  Tape is another medium for covering a separation, for attaching separations, for all purpose fixing, and acts like a band aid for healing.  Some of my very first paintings were inspired with tape, taping over painted images.  In the same way joint compound works for me today is where the tape began.  Since it has freed itself for more logical endeavors.  It was, at first, the texture of the repetition of the tapes' edge that I could respond to or respond with.  The very first painting I ever considered finished and complete is sitting on top of a bed of tape.  Sometimes I am tempted to pull the tape (in turn the painting) off its support to see what was underneath, but I don't.

I bought a stack of color aid sheets, inspired from a drawing of a Belgian fashion designer, a simple black line drawing of a girl in a scarf with little detail almost a silhouette on a solid color rectangle.  I never did get to those drawings but the color aid and tape found each other and made their own drawings that are much akin to the paintings.  Only faster and with little or no consideration but much of the same line and color.   In this process there is a different use for covering only to control or build color and texture, it is not sealing the image as in the painting.  The color of the paper is not arbitrary it has orchestrated the colors that lay upon it.  These freestyle drawings have little commitment and could be considered studies.  Again the tape is its own line and color.  It is a bit clumsy as it finds its way around.  This clumsiness is its animation.  They are able to show a greater range of movement and they are not plastic.  They reference the collages I have been collecting in a book which was arrangements of things I liked to look at from fashion, interior design, and culture magazines.  Torn and arranged each picture describes itself and contains its own color.  I took what was essential from these magazines for me and tried to arrange them as I saw fit.  Some of these will never work and some will have to wait longer than others to be solved and to varying degrees of success, as I am relying upon publishers to provide me with what I need.   Just now I have taken them out of the book hoping to encourage new solutions and perhaps les disjunction.  These are examples of 2 dimensional paths that are occurring.  They may be informed by other "making" behaviors which include arranging and rearranging furniture and piles in my home.  Within these arrangements I create smaller arrangements with rocks and statuettes, jewelry, candles, bottles and miscellaneous knickknacks from foreign travels.  These have a kind of Mexican shrine and/or voodoo aesthetic.  I am engaged with making due and finding solutions to various domestic situations with the least amount of technology.  I am affected by the space I am in.  The home contains so many human rituals.

I am intrigued by religious writings; they are like science fiction without the science or the fiction; religious ritual objects and religious costume or dress code.  Religion is like oil paint, it's serious or people are serious about it.  Even with these things I will sift through and pick out the things I like and arrange them so they fit me.  I have been looking for truth in places where people claim to find it which brought waxing and waning interests in philosophy, most recently logic, which I suspect is leading me to math.  That seems to carry the same weight as "The Simpsons" and coming up with T-shirt philosophies that I never produce or just plain ideas.  I love to think, this has been problematic.  Undisciplined thought leads to absurdities where little makes sense.  At the same time those in fields of epistemology have regulations on how though can proceed.  These regulations turn the words used into a game and I do not trust this game.  These methods bring me no closer to the truth, but do offer lessons on how to protect thought from these games.

The Thunder page 2

Music plays an equally important role as far as influence; and like the magazines that take me to the colors and textures from around the world, music brings the sound and texture.  This too I arrange and exchange with friends who purchase different music.  I make no attempt to bring music to form, but am affected by the cultures that it comes from which extends beyond a small beach town in Massachusetts.  During Freshman year a friend suggested my career path should include moving to Mexico and making my own tortilla chips - this didn't seem like a bad idea.  "Other cultures" advertise color aesthetics that aren't utilized in the American palette.  With culture comes interest in dress, textiles and building processes that include less technology.  I am strongly intrigued with weaving and drawings I flirted with making rules for the tape and thus making pattern.  I have recently started collecting fabrics and rugs, but do not know where this is going.  These are many of the things I look at, but which hasn't included nature itself.

I like the way nature feels        - grass, stones, leaves, wood, bark, branches, air and dirt - somehow dirt in the country isn't dirty.  These elements each have their own weight, texture and color.  Most importantly I am symbolizing ideas about roots which read in several ways; turn the painting over and the roots are trees in an orange sky.  These marks also act like wrinkles, varicose veins, claws, sewage plans, family trees, sentence diagramming, geography, maps, time lines, and infinite regression.

The thunder part #3

You can take the girl out of tradition, but you can't take tradition out of the girl.
Painting has received a thrashing in recent history, being associated with the bourgeois - the enemy of the mass.  The popularization of photography and image reproduction have stolen or altered the novelty of the image and the magic of creation.  After being politicized and fought against, painting is criticized and looked upon as one of the dinosaurs of the arts.

Did it ever occur to anyone that sex has been around longer than painting, eating too.   You don't hear people complaining about how outdated they are.  Painting is almost as primitive an urge as having sex and having food.  I suppose it is not rationalized as a human need.  It is communication, which is supposed to have grown tremendously in sophistication and thus we don't need these relics around, these messy dinosaurs, taking up space and being precious.  Especially since technology has made image making faster, less physical, more realistic and supposedly cleaner.  I understand why painting was politicized, but I see this in terms of the greater need for technology to conquer nature.  Technology takes the uncertainty of nature out of experience.  I have reservations about technology.  In the past five years technology has surpassed my means and I myself have started to feel like a dinosaur.  I am not engaged in inventing a new and improved painting.  I am engaged in my painting.  I value the space that is created between an artist and their work - I like that space, I need that space.  This is where I am most unconscious, and this is where I am most clear.  Nothing can replace that for me; at least I am not trying to replace it yet.  Painting is the will of the hands to find what they know within a set of limitations.  Painting takes time and uses time much like life does - speeding up, slowing down, stalling, only to speed up again.

Color is essential, its location and placement define most of our visual reality, defines boundaries and contains form in every way.  I find colors and color combinations to collect.  These come from various sources and add to my inventory of things.  I don't necessarily try to match these colors but will use the object, paint, or thing as color.  Sometimes I don't use a color I love just to save it or just to look at.  Gauguin I feel particularly inspired by or maybe his translation of the experience of color in the South Pacific.  It is sexy, warm, clean and refreshing.  I first began to use ochre because of Gauguin, not because the color itself was so great but because it made the colors around it look so amazing.  Like pouring a glass of fresh squeezed juice into your eye.

The mother of a friend of mine told her that everything she needed to know about color she would learn from nature.  I believe this to be true, and since then I have seen purple in sun dried wheat fields.

"Marks of their own evidence."

By the time I had seen the work of Keith Haring he was dead.  The appeal of his work is its life and vitality.   Seeing this work was like having CPR and I was so relieved to discover that the whole world was not the tombstone I assumed it to be.  I am thankful.  In this way I feel he has influenced my use of line.

This line I consider to be gracefully crude.  For a while I was very concerned about this crudeness, as I felt that it must mean that I am making juvenile presentations.  With time I have come to accept this crudeness as part of my language and have moved on with growing concern of making sure the viewer doesn't think they see a smiley face.  As far as the viewer goes, I'd like to communicate with whoever wants to look at the work.  I am interested in selling my work and this puts me at the whims of industry, class and politics; which doesn't seem like the proper place for me to survive.  At this point industry/history and I have barely made eye contact, it is difficult then, to imagine myself as part of it or how I should I react if I do become a part of it.

The thunder # 4

"For all enquiry and all learning is but recollection."

I have to say there are times I enjoy writing/writing papers.   This is not one of them.  I find this to be an abstract experience.  I do understand its importance but I hate it.

I have found this to be a perversely abstract experience.  When it is done I will be glad it is over and I can go back to my primitive narcissism.

The meanie has spoken."