Current Exhibition

When the Water Rises:
Recent Paintings by Julie Heffernan

January 24 - March 21, 2019

Opening Preview Reception:
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
5 - 7 p.m.

When the Water Rises by Julie Heffernan

The works by Julie Heffernan, a San Francisco-based painter, present vibrant, colorful, intricate landscape paintings. Imagine a fantastical/dystopic future where ice caps have melted and human beings have moved to higher grounds, often living in trees.


Julie Heffernan’s compositions can be described as being reminiscent of those by Hieronymus Bosch. The exhibition lends itself well to supplemental programs on climate change and Hurricane Harvey.

Julie Heffernan’s recent paintings explore imaginative scenarios and alternative habitats as her personal response to the threat of environmental disasters.

With waters rising all over the globe, Heffernan imagines worlds in trees or life on rafts in which undulating mattresses, tree branches, and road signs act as guides for this wayward journey. Construction cones interrupt the landscape, signaling places to stop and enter interior worlds, to reflect on the human condition - its feckless activity, violence, failure, and redemption. Heffernan reveals worlds within worlds, where her characters tend these alternative environments and safeguard those remaining bounties we cannot live without.

Her attention to detail - rendering in miniature the Palmyra Temple destroyed by ISIS or the names of embarkation points for Syrian refugees - is a way to remember calamitous events of the past years and mark the plights of victims of current unrest.

For Heffernan, this unrest is exacerbated by diminishing water resources and drought due to changing weather patterns and planetary excess. Intricately wrought, Heffernan’s paintings evoke the fantastical allegory of Hieronymus Bosch and the sublime of Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt.

With these paintings, Heffernan spells out the dilemma of climate change, but also begins the conversation about how we might adapt to vastly different climatic conditions.

This exhibition is organized by Louisiana State University Museum of Art.


  • Art Gallery

    Phone: 281-283-2060
    Email: artgallery@uhcl.edu

    Bayou Building, Atrium I, Level 1
    2700 Bay Area Blvd, Box 94
    Houston, TX 77058-1002

    Gallery hours:
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    Friday, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.