Lucia Shuff-Heck, 2016

Artist Statement

“We think we listen, but very rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy. Yet listening, of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces for change that I know.”

- Carl Rogers


When I was younger, I read a lot of books. I was fascinated by them, and most of my available time was devoted to reading. When I finished an assignment in class, I pulled out a book. When I immersed myself in a story, the characters that embodied it became real to me. Their trials became my own. I felt their joy, their pain, embarrassment. These were not my experiences, but I became so thoroughly entrenched within them that they may as well have been. It was only later that I grew to know this sensation for what it was; empathy.

In the world today, I see a lot of boundaries. Our own experiences, prejudices and biases reinforce them, to the point where sometimes we can no longer see others as people. Often we become so entrapped within our own experience that we can no longer relate to others in a way that acknowledges their own humanness. Desensitized to this quintessential and encapsulating factor, it is no wonder that the only thing left for us to see is the difference between ourselves and others, and to then cast these differences as something negative and wrong.

In my work, I attempt to break through these boundaries in a series of pieces meant to evoke empathy. Though based in illustration, I try to bridge the gap between two dimensional and sculptural, breaking the boundaries between surface and real space. Each of my pieces features an element which extends beyond the constraints of canvas or paper. In this practice I demonstrate visually the dissolving barriers between media, in a reflection on my hopes for a similar effect on today’s society.