HANDS ON: Mary Heilmann

The following activity ideas can be used to engage audiences in a hands-on approach to processing the ideas presented in the artist's film segment. They were compiled from our Educators' Guides and Screening Toolkits. Activities include not only visual art strategies but writing, research, and other disciplinary methods. Additional resources and strategies for teaching with films and working with contemporary art can be found in Teach.


"Snakey," 2007. Aquatint and archival pigment inkjet, Image: Each side of diptych 22 7/8 x 1 1/4 inches, Paper: 28 7/8 x 41 5/8 inches. Edition of 35. Courtesy Pace Editions, New York.


SEGMENT: Mary Heilmann in "Fantasy"

Create two paintings, using two different approaches. First, create an abstract image, and title it after you are finished. Second, create a title, and then create an abstract image. How do the processes and finished works differ from each other?

Assemble a collection of works that juxtapose abstract and representational images—found, drawn, painted, or created digitally. Narrate a story based on the sequence of the images.


"Lovejoy," 2004. Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 inches. © Mary Heilmann. Courtesy the artist, 303 Gallery, New York and Hauser & Wirth, Zürich London.

Mary Heilmann reflects on her Catholic upbringing and makes a strong connection between abstract art and religion. The artist says: "An artwork can transport a person in a soulful, rich way without having any fear of punishment or hell or sin or any of those other good things." Consider this statement, and write stories or share experiences about works of art that have transported you.