Valerie Hegarty (born 1967) copies and modifies iconic American paintings and decorative arts, making them look as if they had been inundated by waves, attacked by birds, or singed by fire. For Hegarty, the destruction of these works supersedes their creation. Centering her critical practice on American myths, Hegarty creates canvases and sculptures that replicate emblems of frontier ethos: colonial furniture, antique dishware, and heroic paintings of landscapes and national figures, which are deteriorated by weather, or agents associated with their historical significance. Hegarty also deploys a method she refers to as “reverse archaeology,” in which layers of painted paper are applied to walls and then slowly peeled away, giving a disintegrated impression of an architectural apparition from her past.
Hegarty has had solo exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, New York (2013); Nicelle Beauchene Gallery and Marlborough Chelsea, New York (2012); Locust Projects, Miami (2010); High Line Public Art Project, New York (2009); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2003); and Gallery 400, Chicago (2002). She has also exhibited in group shows at David Castillo Gallery, Miami (2012); Art, Design and Architecture Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara (2012); and The Hole, New York (2010), among others. Hegarty was awarded an Artist Fellowship from the Illinois Arts Council and a Graduate Fellowship Award and Trustee Scholarship from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received an MFA.