Claira Heitzenrater (b. 1988) is a contemporary painter & educator living and working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She holds an MFA in Painting from Edinboro University and a BFA in Studio Art from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She has been featured in issue 13 of Create! Magazine, volume 38 of Studio Visit Magazine, issue 11 of Fresh Paint Magazine, as well as various regional publications. She has completed residencies at SparkBox Studio in Picton, Ontario, Canada and the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont. Claira currently works as a teaching artist in Design at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in the North side of Pittsburgh. She is a lover of animals, magick, nature, good music, tea, and a damn fine cup of coffee.
Women are powerful. Though that goes without saying, our contemporary culture still requires a reminder of our innate power in everything we interact with. In my paintings, I honor the women before me; the homemakers, the mothers, and the witches, to name a few. I employ varying degrees of abstraction and rendering to reinforce transient female experiences with my observed forms. I apply and scrape away paint, removing portions of the composition to create “ghosts” within the picture plane, which function as not only a present spirit or manifestation, but also a memory of powerful women of the past. I deliver content to the viewer via the use of surrogate objects, being viewed from an outside perspective, their relationships mimicking that of human portraiture. These surrogates are of a domestic nature. I choose domestic objects as they are meant to be handled by human hands in order to function, further promoting their familiarity. These objects flaunt their deterioration from use, supporting the emotionality of each piece. Though people of all genders are represented by household objects, I choose to focus on all women and woman-identifying individuals, honoring their strength, power, and wisdom in the objects society used to restrain them within the home, a tongue-in-cheek response to patriarchal society by putting objects of the homemaker, the mother, and the witch on a pedestal.