When the Water Rises:¬

Recent Paintings by Julie Heffernan

September 22, 2018-December 30, 2018

Julie Heffernan’s recent paintings imagine alternative habitats as creative responses to climate change.

With waters rising all over the globe, Heffernan imagines a new reality. Life is lived in trees or on rafts in which mattresses, tree branches, and road signs act as guides for the wayward journey. Construction zones interrupt the landscape. They let us reflect on the human condition—its feckless activity, violence, and failure.

Many of Heffernan’s paintings highlight tragedy: a temple destroyed by ISIS, embarkation points for Syrian refugees, or the destruction of climate change. They point to specific failures within our global social, economic, and environmental systems.

Yet other vignettes offer redemption. Heffernan reveals worlds within worlds. Her characters repurpose luxury items and safeguard bounties we cannot live without. Nurturing figures suggest that we can adapt to a changed environment. Creative responses and building relationships with one another and with nature are the path forward.

With these paintings, Heffernan spells out the dilemma of climate change, but offers a vision to carry us forward.

Organized by Louisiana State University Museum of Art.


Julie Heffernan received her MFA in Painting from Yale and a BFA from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Heffernan has received numerous grants including an NEA, NYFA, and Fullbright Fellowship and is in the collection of major museums including the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She is represented by P.P.O.W in New York and Catharine Clark in San Francisco. Heffernan is a Professor of Fine Arts at Montclair State University.