Canadian ceramic artist Steven Heinemann was born in Toronto, 1957, and currently lives and works near Cookstown, Ontario.
Since completing his MFA (Alfred University, 1983) he has taught widely in Canada and the U.S.A. including Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Ohio State University, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Ontario College of Art and Design, Sheridan College. In addition, numerous residencies have taken him from Canada (Banff Centre) to the U.S.A. (Cranbrook Academy), Holland (EKWC), Hungary (ICS), and Korea (JINRO), among others.
In 2017/18 Heinemann had a career retrospective exhibition at the George R Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art in Toronto. In addition, he has had over 30 solo exhibitions since his first at the Ontario Crafts Council in 1982; primarily in Canada, USA, and Europe. His work is in numerous private and public collections, including The Victoria and Albert Museum (London), The Museum Of Fine Arts (Boston), The World Ceramic Centre (Icheon), The National Museum of History (Taipei), The Museum of Art and Design (New York), Museum Boymans van Beuningen (Rotterdam), and The Contemporary Museum (Honolulu).
Canadian Awards include the Prix D’Excellence (National Biennial of Ceramics, 1988, 94), and the Saidye Bronfman Award (1996), Canada’s highest recognition of achievement in contemporary craft. He has also received many international awards, including the Bavarian State Prize (Modern Masters, Germany 2004), the Special Award (World Ceramic Biennial, Korea 2004) the Juror's Award (Ceramic International, Japan 1995) , and the Award of Merit (Fletcher Challenge, New Zealand 1994, 95).
Back in 1979, the start of my final year at Sheridan college, we were all asked to make work for a fundraising mug and bowl sale. I was going to get this out of the way, and get down to Serious Business in my thesis year, in which you truly chart your own creative course for the first time. But it was like I sat down at the wheel to work, and never looked up. This humble and almost inconsequential form became utterly absorbing, and I literally spent the rest of that year making bowls. And uncannily, the more I narrowed down the more it would open up in possibility. Inadvertently and unconsciously, I had found my life’s work. And though I depart from it periodically, the pull remains. Out of that early obsession came an abiding interest in volume and contained space, which has informed everything I’ve done.
There’s something about the interior of a bowl that I can’t quite fathom. Experientially, it’s distinct form, say, a painting where you gaze ahead of you to a flat expanse of fixed orientation. And while you might say the bowl has this inherent modesty, it also offers a kind of theatre in which space can be activated, or some event takes place. In my case that seems to be tied to phenomena, pattern, somewhere between organic growth and geologic event. It’s also connected to my interest in ‘the meditative image’, which you find in things like Tantric Art. And like those paintings they have a function: to gather and transform the attention of the viewer.
Like many my work has encompassed periods of focus, followed by periods of expansion/diffusion. There is a time to say no, and a time to say yes; the strict confines of the bowl are given over to a reimagined space of open possibility. Things that were once explored in the vessel format are given permission to be other, taking me back into sculpture and photography/video. Digital tools have been a part of this, enabling me to revisit earlier ideas with a different emphasis.