“Phoenix Song” by Kat Heckenbach, Tampa Branch
Tampa Branch member Kat Heckenbach started doing mixed media art after a friend and fellow artist spent an afternoon showing her some basics. Soon Heckenbach was taking those lessons in her own direction.
Several months later, she lost her 18-year-old son. At the memorial service, the same friend brought Heckenbach a box of patterned and textured paper and other mixed media supplies. A note inside read, “I pray the contents of this box inspire you to create and play and imagine beautiful art. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself room to grieve.”
Heckenbach took the advice to heart and found that mixed media allowed her to express her grief without worrying about technique and planning. She could tear paper and plaster layers of material with no idea of the piece’s final form, and she created several abstract pieces. Gradually, her works began to take more predetermined shape, though, and eventually she began working on her most ambitious mixed media piece, Phoenix Song.
Using strips of torn paper, all of which came from the gift box, Heckenbach created a phoenix, a representation of rebirth in memory of her son. She was honored to win several local awards for Phoenix Song and to have an image of the piece used on the cover of an anthology that includes one of her own short stories.
Heckenbach continues to make art, including mixed media, acrylic paintings, and altered thrift store art. You can learn more about her art and writing at www.katheckenbach.com.