PLAYING WITH TEXTURE. Hejny demonstrates the rough texture on her 18-foot-tall commissioned painting from the salt added to the paint.
PLAYING WITH TEXTURE. Hejny demonstrates the rough texture on her 18-foot-tall commissioned painting from the salt added to the paint.
McKinley Garner

Local artist Annie Irene Hejny finds inspiration in nature

Oftentimes the meaning of art is derived from the final product, however, for Annie Irene Hejny, art also finds its meaning through all steps in the process. From venturing out to locations where she finds herself surrounded by nature, to gathering natural materials for construction, Hejny is deliberate with everything she does to get from idea to completed works.

As a local Minnesota artist, Hejny expressed how “being with nature … [she] feels inspired to collect certain materials from the environment.” She incorporates these local natural materials in various ways to emphasize her message.

A prime example of this is her capstone project for becoming a Minnesota Water Steward, “Seeing salt.” Through Hejny’s various lessons on water policy and water science, she learned about the impacts of salt deicing on our environment and infrastructure. After learning the science of salt deicing, she started “seeing salt everywhere” and began to collect it.

SALT DEICING. “Seeing salt,” Hejny’s capstone project for becoming a Minnesota Water Steward aims to educate viewers on the harms of deicing salt. (McKinley Garner)

After obtaining the salt, she created pieces of art that demonstrated the corrosive properties of and proper usage of salt. Many of her works also included water from natural sources impacted by salt deicing. Alongside the display of her art, she was able to give a short talk on the harms of deicing salt, educating the audience – a demonstration of her verbal action paired with visual representation.

Hejny said she is “really thinking about the full message being related to the climate crisis … [and] celebrating the beauty of water.” The inspiration for becoming an environmentalist with climate change and water safety is deeply intertwined with her artwork from when she was a kid.

Hejny said, “I grew up playing outside a lot and being really familiar with getting in the lake and swimming.” So, when she finished college with a degree in art she was “excited to continue those practices.”

GET COLORFUL. Hejny displays the color palette she used for the commissioned painting, which includes muted, calming colors. (McKinley Garner)

Because of her deep connection with the natural world, she has been challenged by the fact that “sometimes the materials [she] uses are not environmentally friendly.” However, Hejny mentioned that “we as individuals are working within a greater system,” and that it can be challenging to truly be a ‘perfect’ environmentalist when certain products that are necessary to the artistic process do not have environmentally friendly alternatives.

Hejny hopes that the people who view her art will “be inspired to have conversations … and think about their actions.”

To purchase Hejny’s art visit Hejny’s website, supporting her and her message.

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