Starting from the top right and going clockwise:
Luna's Nest, 2013, Sterling silver;
Artist with Spotted Ring, 2008, Sterling silver;
Twins, 2007, Sterling silver;
Nesting Ring, 2012, Eggshell, resin, ink;
Nesting Cups, 2012, Eggshell, graphite, resin, copper, flocking;
Nesting Nest, 2012, Sterling silver;
Taut Nest, 2014, Sterling silver;
Hanging Nest, 2013, Sterling silver
I observe the behaviors of small animals where I live in Kansas, on the edge of rural and urban. The instincts they display—migration, gathering food, courting, mating, and especially nesting, are captivating and are the inspiration for my recent collections of work.
The first major series I will feature in my exhibition is the Nesting series. I am fascinated by birds’ inherent knowledge of not only where to build for safety and stability, but especially how to make their complex structures without guidance. They somehow know—through Instinct. Buildings, bridges, and telephone poles are adorned with nests in the summer, nests squeezed into human-made spaces, and when removed they have the distinct forms of human structure imposed upon them. It is as though human features have become a new Nature, and some birds now depend on our architecture in order to thrive so abundantly.
In the Nesting series I play with this idea by building nests on humans in the form of jewelry. This work also explores themes of fertility, family, and home. The use of silver for these pieces gives preciousness to these usually ephemeral objects: something that is discarded or ignored after use, but is so crucial when being used, can be celebrated permanently by building it from metal. I have also experimented with other materials as a branch of this series, cutting and carving texture into eggshells and placing them intentionally onto clean, white platters. The combination of resin and human-imposed forms and marks on these pieces is meant to contrast the usually messy setting of a natural nest. Finally, I have also used eggshells stacked with resin as a starting point to carve rings.
Heather Bayless was born in upstate New York, and throughout her life her favorite place to be has been outdoors. Growing up in the countryside with a house surrounded by forest, having a gardener mother and a scientist father and a curiosity about all things tiny have blended to form the interest she has in plants and living things. An artistic grandmother, aunt, and brother influenced her as a child, and over time she became fascinated by metalwork and design. Heather’s work combines these two passions—nature and art—into a body of work that balances between idea, tradition, and image.
After completing her BFA in graphic design and metalwork at Miami University in Ohio, Heather moved to Korea to further study metalwork and complete her MFA at Kookmin University with the help of a Fulbright Research Grant. Heather taught university-level metalwork and jewelry design in Seoul for 2.5 years while actively working in the studio. She and her husband Dukno Yoon returned to the US in 2010 to work and teach in the Metals program at Kansas State University.