Final ISU Design on Main spring exhibition addresses cultural tensions through mixed-media art

"C-thong" by Heather Whittlesey
"Two of a Kind" by Heather Whittlesey
"Snow Cone" by Heather Whittlesey


AMES, Iowa — The Iowa State University Design on Main Gallery, 203 Main St., will present the work of integrated visual arts graduate student Heather Whittlesey in the final exhibition of its spring 2015 season.

The installations and sculptural ceramic work featured in "Tensegrity" will highlight the range of media, techniques and themes Whittlesey has explored throughout her graduate studies. She will receive her Master of Fine Arts degree from Iowa State in May.

The show will run April 13-24. A reception will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 17.

In her mixed-media artwork, Whittlesey—originally from Newton and now residing in Ankeny—addresses cultural tensions related to class, gender, sexuality and race.

Her installations "employ tension as an environment within which to build scenes of death, irony, humor, domination, excitement and inquiry, all while immersed in a fantasy-like state of awareness," she said.

Her ceramic work responds to "a more romantic and celebratory hybridizing of sexes and/or species." And her Dwelling Series—birdhouses containing eggs too large to fit through the entrances—"focuses on the idea of outgrowing our origins, balancing our expectations between home and work and going beyond where we first began."

Whittlesey received her Bachelor of Arts with a focus on sculpture and glassblowing from Central College, Pella, in 2010. She worked as a glassblower at Tesuque Glassworks in Santa Fe, N.M., before returning to Iowa to complete her MFA degree.

Her work has been accepted into regional and national juried exhibitions, most recently, "Containment: Lidded Forms," Feb. 26-April 9 at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and "Re-imaging Gender," Jan. 15-June 26 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is the current president of CODAC (College of Design Art Club).

Exhibition hours are 3 to 6 p.m. Monday and Friday; 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday (closed Tueday and Sunday). All ISU Design on Main Gallery exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.

Heather Whittlesey, Integrated Visual Arts, (641) 680-6377,
Jennifer Drinkwater, Design on Main, (515) 708-2825,
Sara Madison, Design on Main,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,