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     My name is Heather Baker, AKA HBee. I am an artist residing in Northern IL. When I'm not working on art I am usually spending as much time as possible hiking, canoeing, wandering, thinking, and exploring outdoors. In 2016, My husband and I finished hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, which has been a defining experience in our lives. I also try to do my part volunteering to restore Native Prairie land in my area. In 2010, I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a BFA in photography and a BA in anthropology. 

  Artist Statement

     As humans, we have the power to change and shape our environment, and at the same time, we are changed and shaped by it. All living things have this power and connectivity to each other. Read any ecology text book, and this idea is very plain and apparent. Step into any wild place to observe the raw materials of life, and this reality is warmly felt and understood. It can be a very meditative practice. Time collapses as you realize that all who have ever walked the earth know the feeling of the dirt below their feet and the clouds above their heads. The natural world is so close to my heart. For me, it is a place where I can clear my mind and be free, without being judged. I can regenerate and feel more whole and in sync with the world around me. 

     My art is deeply driven by fresh air and quiet contemplation. Using foraged plant materials, I create mandalas that represent my personal experiences of feeling centered in nature, as well as my thoughts on the interconnectedness of ever changing forms and living beings sharing this one world. I also create new fantastical creatures, arranging plant parts to form my own kind of animal kingdom. Grasses become fur, leaves become feathers or scales, thorns become teeth and claws, and seeds of various shapes and sizes take on new roles as eyes or a camouflaging pattern. For me, these pieces arouse my imagination and my fascination with nature. They elicit that timeless feeling as I imagine the archaic forms that have persistently been the building blocks of life on Earth. 

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