Claire Heidinger


Activating the exhibition 'Ornamental Gestures'

Artist Claire Heidinger participated in a three-month residency at the Doris McCarthy Gallery, researching, responding to, and creating programming for the exhibition Ornamental Gestures through the lens of her own artistic practice. The residency was an opportunity for Claire to begin exploring ceramics as part of her practice, and she produced a new work, Suzanne (iterations I, II & III), in response to the exhibition. In addition to creating this work, Claire spent the residency conducting research, writing a critical essay, and creating programming for students at Unionville High School, including an exhibition tour and ceramics workshop.

Continuing her experimentation with food produce, Claire’s porcelain sculptural work brings together her ongoing investigation of diasporic hybrid cultures with various themes within the exhibition. Suzanne (iterations I, II & III), is made up of white porcelain oranges, held in crates imprinted with various chinoiserie patterns. Through chinoiserie designs, Claire references the Western appropriation that mimics Chinese motifs, as part of an exotic Orient. She re-contextualizes culturally specific ornamentation on objects made to travel, and utilizes the crate as a metaphor for in-betweenness. The colour stripped oranges, being devoid of their most idiosyncratic quality, also become metaphors for the transfer of units of culture. This missing attribute becomes a glaring loss in the characteristic of the fruit, and adds another layer of functional tension within the work. The title Suzanne comes from the Leonard Cohen song, referencing Suzanne serving "tea and oranges that come all the way from China". Suzanne (iterations I, II & III) is part of Claire’s investigation of the loss of culture and history in migrant bodies.


Claire Heidinger (she/her) is a Tkaronto-based Chinese-Canadian visual artist with a BFA from OCAD University (2021), specializing in Drawing and Painting, and Art History. Investigating a visual fetishism created by the gaze, she creates large-scale oil paintings rooted in figuration and experiments with food produce in expanded painting. Claire’s practice is dependent on heavy research, motivated by diasporic sentimentality, identity, and accessibility. She is currently investigating diasporic hybrid cultures with the historical transposition of media in ceramics and painting to depict a loss of culture and history in migrant bodies. Claire has been awarded by the Ontario Council of Arts (2022), Canada Council for the Arts (2023), and is the co-founder of Common Collective Arts. She is pursuing an MFA in Painting at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn (2023-25).


The Doris McCarthy Gallery Educator-in-Residence Program provides an emerging arts professional with mentorship and resources in order to research, plan, and implement a schedule of programs and outreach for specific exhibitions and audiences. Residents use their own creative practices to engage with art and audiences in new and innovative ways.