"Words are just a way we communicate. Images are a way we communicate. And I couldn't figure out why they had to be in different baskets."
From "Art in the Twenty-First Century" Season 5 (2009)
“Every piece of abstract art that I make has a back story,” says Mary Heilmann, who relays youthful fantasies of wanting to be a Catholic martyr, her childhood dream to become an artist, as well as the antagonism she experienced in school when transitioning from pottery to painting. Shown completing a new body of work, the segment begins in the artist’s secluded Bridgehampton studio on Long Island. “My spiritual life is very important to me and I think the artworks are icons,” says Heilmann, who believes in the ecumenical power of art to “transport a person in a soulful, rich way, without having any fear of punishment or Hell or sin.” The segment also features Heilmann’s touring retrospective at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, where she's designed colorful chairs on wheels that viewers can use to relax, meditate, or socialize with one another and have “a conversation through the work.”