Erika Hess

Erika b Hess is a painter who is known for her use and interest in color. Hess’s work has been exhibited nationally including Prince Street Gallery in Manhattan, NY, Last Projects in Los Angles, CA, and Boston Center for the Arts in Boston, MA. Her work has been published in various publications such as Poets and Artists, Fresh Paint, and in Post-Industrial Complex, a book released by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Her work was selected by John Seed to be featured in “Fifty Memorable Artists 2015”. She served as a visiting juror for Dayton Visual Art Center’s 2016-2018 biennial in Dayton, OH, and as a recurring juror for the Walker Art Prize at Boston University. She served as a panelist for Cleveland Institute of Art’s, “Feminism Now 2014: Exposing the Truth”, a symposium focusing on art, feminism and digital culture. Hess received her BFA from Wright State University and her MFA from Boston University.


I begin each of my paintings with a compositional idea in mind and a narrative derived from my day-to-day experience. The narrative may be based on a personal exchange or driven by an object in my studio. Recently the narrative in my work investigates objects that make up my day-to-day life: flowers from my garden, postcards hanging in my studio and small trinkets I have kept over the years. I arrange them on a milk crate against my painting wall, look at the light, and observe how a flower leans towards a postcard. They are arranged in a way that allows me to investigate the formalities of painting: the accumulation of paint marks, color, and value to form an image. While the formal properties are important, they are only a vehicle. It is the time spent looking at the objects, and painting them, that allows them to be transformed into something larger.

I began painting flowers after receiving bouquets for the birth of my daughter. The action of giving flowers is a tradition we still partake in for the birth of a child, a gift for a lover, the death of a friend. It is a way to communicate a deep emotion that we may not have the words to express. In that way, flowers are a way to visually communicate, like a painting.