Featured Team Member: Heather Zises

Alongside her primary role at The Magnusson Group, Heather is a founding member of Ninth Street Collective, a group of art administrators who focus on professional development for artists. Heather also enjoys being a contributing writer for diverse platforms like Agora Gallery, Pregame Magazine and Fine Art Globe.  Heather began her career at Pace Gallery and Phillips, where she coordinated numerous exhibitions and site-specific installations at galleries, art fairs and alternative spaces worldwide. Raised in Boston, Heather graduated from Cornell University with a BA in English and has an MA in Art History and Connoisseurship from Christie’s Education.

We asked Heather a few questions so our Magnusson community can get to know her better!


What Do You Collect?

As a curator, my art antenna is always on the lookout for interesting works. Two pieces that are experiencing a renaissance in my personal collection is a print by Kay Rosen (who is also featured in my 50 CWA book) called You Can Do Anything (Blue Suede Shoes), 2008, Ed. 1000 and an assemblage sculpture made out of a cigar box, encaustic and paper called Meditation, 2013 by Charles Heppner.

I love art that makes you think, and Kay’s print does exactly that. The work reads as “Blue Suede Shues” in blue typeface. The title comes from a song lyric from Blue Suede Shoes by Elvis Presley (You can do anything, but stay off of my blue suede shoes…). It empowers someone who is wearing blue suede shoes, but it also gives the artist permission to adjust the spelling. Kay, who creates language-based art in all medias, decided to make the three words visually consistent by spelling them all with ue. The text reveals patterns and inconsistencies in the English language and attempts to smooth them out.

Charles’ sculpture is equally thought-provoking. Meditation is part of an ongoing series of three-dimensional works called Sanctum Boxes. Each of the Sanctum Boxes, which are built out of cigar boxes and inlaid with symbolic contents, examine iconography that center around issues of peace and social justice. Inspired by the meditation practice during the Catholic Lenten season of the Stations of the Cross, the Sanctum Boxes focus on themes such as self-reflection, compassion and gratitude. Viewed as self-actualization pieces, each work is a meditation on personal growth.

What is Your Favorite Book/Movie/Show/Impression/Museum and Why?
I was really taken with the 2010 Tony-award winning play Red, which was about the life of color field artist Mark Rothko. I had the opportunity to attend the original Broadway production when it first came out, starring Alfred Molina who played Rothko and Eddie Redmayne who played his studio assistant. The play takes place in Rothko’s studio during the late 1950s in New York City where we witness Rothko bristling against the rise of Pop Art and his resistance toward a commissioned project that he ultimately rejects out of it being “too commercial.” His internal struggle with making art that is perceived as authentic was palpable throughout his entire performance. As a curator, I can sympathize with this sentiment as almost every artist I know has battled risking the integrity of their artistic voice by taking on commercial projects in order to pay the bills. It is a fine line, but at the end of the day a job is a job, and no one can steal your true self unless you let them.  

Do You Have A Nickname? Why?
My nickname is Red. My headshot should make it pretty obvious…

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