Kelly Heaton, mixing painting, analog circuitry, and sculpture creates electrically powered artworks. Electrolier
(Summer Night)(2012-13) takes the form of a glittering sculptural chandelier of leaves, moths, and nocturnal fauna,
and pulses with the sparkling lights and various vibrant chirps of the countryside at night.
Electrolier is accompanied by small diagrammatic studies which detail the hand constructed circuits used in the
sculpture and correspond to the leaves alight with fireflies, moths and other nocturnal insects. The diagrams are
heat-transferred onto flexible copper-clad material; and the negative space is etched away leaving the printed circuit
soldiered to the component parts of Electrolier.
Electrified landscapes, Spout Run at Dusk (2012), Summer Insects (Midday July) (2012), and The Night Tree (2012-
13), provide visceral summations of nature’s naturalistic and spiritual pleasures. The sounds of crickets, cicada,
and birds are electrical phenomena and when the works are “turned off,” their dormant surfaces continue to sparkle
with shiny plastic parts, the glint of lead solder, and the lively interplay of seemingly infinite, miniature electronic
components: resistors, capacitors, and transistors; transformers, sensors, and timers. None of the sounds are
recordings; analog electronic circuits, designed by Heaton to generate this audio-visual show, adhere to the
Their electronic components will eventually wear out or need replacement, some components lasting thousands of
hours. Audio and video recordings archive each work. The temporal aspect invites a comparison to impermanent
sand mandalas. Non-electrified sketches and watercolors made during the nine-year period that Heaton taught
herself analog electrical engineering are also part of this body of work.
Ronald Feldman Fine Arts exhibited Heaton in a solo show entitled The Parallel Series which ran from September
8 – October 27 of 2012. Jerry Saltz reviewed The Parallel Series in New York Magazine: “Sculptor, seer, scientist,
spiritualist Kelly Heaton allows us to glimpse the ghost in the machine… Heaton replicates the world while seeming
to tap into the cosmic mainframe. Conjuring objects that have life but that are built to die one day makes her cryptic
work akin to witnessing engineered Emily Dickinson poems come to life.”
The critic Kim Levin described Heaton’s solo show, Live Pelt in 2003 “as conceptually perfect” in The Village Voice.
The multi-media installation deconstructed the Tickle Me Elmo doll as a vector to channel information about
America’s Pop culture and its historical fur trade, and featured The Surrogate, a vibrating coat fashioned from the
electronics of 64 pre-owned Elmos won at eBay auctions.
Trained in art and science, Kelly Heaton received her Bachelor of Art from Yale University in 1994, her Master of
Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000, and was awarded a residency at the Duke
University Department of Computer Science in 2002.