Imaginary Shelter

Heather Lee Birdsong

September 2 — October 1, 2023

Opening Reception

Saturday, September 2 5-8 pm

Open Hours

Sat-Sun 12-5pm
drop in or by appointment 

to schedule a visit

Exhibition Statement

Heather Lee Birdsong reconstructs and merges half-remembered buildings and carefully observed vegetation from different times in her life. Working primarily from memory, imagination, and emotional impetus, the scenes Birdsong depicts coalesce from places no longer accessible to the artist—such as a demolished childhood home, sites of wildfire, and houses and apartments left by moving or through estrangement.

Like many of her contemporaries, Birdsong's life spans multiple cities and a semi-nomadic existence within each, typical of the inherent instability of modern housing. The temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest and the Mojave Desert of the American Southwest feature prominently, as well as introduced species common to both. In the face of displacement, disposable architecture, and encroaching climate change, these works represent Birdsong’s efforts to understand “home” as a physical place, separate from and alongside “home” as a feeling of belonging.

Several works bear titles derived from or inspired by literary sources, including: The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard (translated by Maria Jolas), The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch, Rhododaphne: Or, the Thessalian Spell by Thomas Love Peacock, and poems by Joanne de Longchamps and Ursula K. Le Guin.


Heather Lee Birdsong  (b. 1984 in Spring Valley, NV) is an artist based in Portland, Oregon since 2005. She holds a BFA in Intermedia from the Pacific Northwest College of Art (2011). Collections housing her work include the Visual Chronicle of Portland, Oregon; Ella Strong Denison Library, Scripps College; Albert Solheim Library, Pacific Northwest College of Art; and Southern Graphics Council International. Birdsong is recipient of three project and professional development grants from the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) and was an artist-in-residence in Print Arts Northwest's Emerging Printmakers Program (2012). Her membership at Carnation Contemporary is supported by an Arts3C Grant from RACC. In addition to her fine art practice, she works as a freelance graphic designer, editor, and arts administrator. / @smidgeonpress

8371 N Interstate Ave
Portland, OR 97217

Open Hours
12-5 Saturday-Sunday

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