Readers of Evanston feature

Flourish is featured today on Readers of Evanston. Earlier this week, I had great conversation with Katie Barthelemy from Evanston Public Library who structures the conversation with my all-time favorite question "what are you reading?" here's what Readers of Evanston wrote:

Heather Hancock is a visual artist and the creator of Flourish in downtown Evanston. “One of the things I’m really interested in is how the urban landscape influences our behavior, and our mood, and our affect, and what we can do in the urban world streetscape to create a moment of surprise or discovery. In the natural world there is constant change and variety, but in the built world, we see a lot of repetition. I’m interested in how we connect the natural world to the built world; but also, on a beautiful brick wall, how do we create something that is different and surprising?” Flourish is just that: a beautiful installment of reflectors and tape on an outer brick wall meant to be a temporary exhibition— it will disappear again within the next two weeks. Glass, Heather’s usual medium, "is all about lasting forever, so it was really a fun to think ‘what can we build that has visual impact but can be a temporary installation?’”

READERS OF EVANSTON | Evanston Public Library | photo credit Katie Barthelemy

Heather’s choice of reading, Places of the heart: The psychogeography of everyday life, connects to her work and her mission: Canadian psychologist Colin Ellard, studies how “architecture, streetscapes, [and] facades effect our experience of place and our well-being. It’s really exciting work because that’s exactly what I’m interested in with my work. Another relevant and amazing book is Nesting: Body, Dwelling, Mind by Sarah Robinson which offers another take on thinking about what it is in our built world that helps us live well."

Flourish is now on display outside the Other Brother Coffee House on Sherman and Grove. Heather explains, “Downtown Evanston commissioned Flourish as part of their initiative to create engaging public spaces. Given I’m usually engineering pieces that will last forever I enjoyed developing concepts for a playful, short-term urban experience." Re-purposing functional materials (masonry tape and reflectors) and lines from the built world, Flourish interacts with motion and ambient light to offer pedestrians a moment of surprise in the streetscape.

Flourish (detail) in different lighting conditions | Heather Hancock 2015

Flourish at Other Brother Coffee in downtown Evanston

More about this project.

Flourish | a temporary public art installation

My work centers around finding the points of intersection between the built and natural worlds. I'm a firm believer in EO Wilson's concept of biophilia, that humans are attuned to the natural world and maintaining that connection is integral to our well-being. I'm equally interested in finding information and beauty in the precision geometries, repetition and structure of the urban environment; shorthand: "living well in the built world." So I was delighted when the innovative urban planner+landscape architecture firm Teska Associates and Downtown Evanston asked me to generate some ideas for a temporary public art installation as part of a 'people space' or parklet concept. Understanding how to create engaging public spaces fits well with my interests in creating engaging visual experiences. Public art is an opportunity to create moments of surprise and discovery. And, in this case, an opportunity to source and experiment with temporary, removable materials.

Flourish is a playful re-imagining of lines and forms from the built world as organic, growing elements. Functional materials--masonry tape and bike reflectors--are re-purposed to create a new experience of the streetscape.

Flourish | detail | tape+reflectors | 30'x6' c Heather Hancock 2015


In daylight, the piece is fresh greens with popping accents in reds and ambers.


In the evening, ambient light and motion makes for a flickering, shimmering walk-by experience.

Living in urban landscapes requires new ways of seeing beauty and finding moments of surprise in the repetition and precision of the built environment.

Big thanks to Downtown Evanston for commissioning this project...and being game to experiment with this concept. Stay tuned for the next steps at this corner with Teska Associates, Downtown Evanston and The Other Brother Coffeehouse.

Flourish | sign

More about this project.


A new commission is giving me the chance to re-visit some favorite concepts and visual referents. Glide is a graphic abstraction of skating inspired lines. These curving, interconnected lines encode velocity and distance, technology-meets-mineral-world. In Glide, there is a new level of precision in creating coherent negative space. Moving away from more traditional piece-by-piece mosaic composition, forms here are cut to work in multiple directions for a bolder, simplified visual impact. Cut in a crisp palette of whites and grays, two pieces in 16" and 20" rounds will offer a visual contrast to the strong rectilinear elements of the client's kitchen. Glide | cutting glass | checking lines c Heather Hancock 2015

Glide 20" | grouting c Heather Hancock 2015

Urban vocab: Geometry

I am exploring new work around the idea of 'living well in the built world.' I am a firm believer in EO Wilson's concept of 'biophilia': humans are innately attuned to nature. Given the biology of our attention which necessarily habituates to repetitive stimuli, the natural world features a perfect balance of repetition and difference. While we may read natural world elements as repeating or patterned, at micro through macro levels of observation, we find infinite variation, difference and information. My hypothesis is that there are some ways in which the lines and forms of the urban world are similarly engaging. Our interaction with the built world is rarely static and symmetrical. Rather we are encountering infinite compositions in distorting lines and forms as we move through our city environments. Perhaps these distortions of precision built world geometries and symmetries, lead to visual experience that echoes (albeit faintly) that of the natural world.

Here's my starting point in this urban vocab exploration.

Urban vocab | Lines 2.1 | 20"x20" glass+grout c Heather Hancock 2015
Urban vocab | Lines 2.1 | 20"x20" glass+grout c Heather Hancock 2015
Urban vocab | Lines 2.2 | 20"x20" glass+grout c Heather Hancock 2015
Urban vocab | Lines 2.2 | 20"x20" glass+grout c Heather Hancock 2015
Urban vocab | Lines 2.3 | 20"x20" glass+grout c Heather Hancock 2015
Urban vocab | Lines 2.3 | 20"x20" glass+grout c Heather Hancock 2015

Place-making: abstract portrait of Evanston

The historic 1920s Hahn building in downtown Evanston by architect John Nyden has long caught my eye. Pale green architectural ornamentation on the building facade connects the built and natural worlds with curving imagery of flora and fauna in structured symmetrical sections. Under the direction of designer Karen Behles, the shared interior spaces in the Hahn building are being upgraded. Karen invited me to develop site-specific art pieces for their lobby. The travertine clad walls in the entrance hall and lobby create a warm neutral backdrop for crisp art pieces in glass. Pale green foliage elements connect with both the architectural ornamentation on the facade and Evanston's urban forest. Rendered in olive and driftwood gray glass, these curving, organic elements contrast with the graphic city forms and intertwining linear lake elements. The palette of soft whites, olive green and layered blues complements and plays off the neutral travertine cladding.

I trust this concept will offer visual engagement for the community of professionals using this building for years to come.

City | 3@32"x32" | glass+grout c Heather Hancock 2015

detail City | 3@32"x32" | glass+grout c Heather Hancock 2015

More images and about this project here.


Sycamore | creating a kitchen view

I've always been fascinated by the patterns on sycamore tree trunks with their mottled camo colors and shedding irregular curved patches making them somewhere between beautiful and surreal, certainly surprising. So when clients asked if I would develop art for their kitchen reflecting the sycamores lining the street outside their home, I was intrigued. sycamore bark

Rather than a literal approach to the patchy bark, I proposed an irregular ray concept for the bark to get at the visual surprise of encountering sycamores. The structural elements of transmission towers served as the visual inspiration for the bark, integrating natural with built world elements. A palette of warm neutrals and pale yellow and olive green for the bark element contrasts with the popping green foliage and sky blue background to bring color and interest to the client's kitchen.

The pieces are edged in anodized aluminum and integrated hanging hardware for easy hanging.


Sycamore | art for kitchen backsplash | 3 @ 14"x22" c Heather Hancock 2015

sycamores | 3@14"x22" | photo credit: Laura Urban

More images of the Sycamore project

Open Studios Evanston 2015

The second annual Open Studios Evanston event is this Saturday. New this year is the Made in Evanston preview party this Thursday evening at Noyes Street Cultural Center. My piece, Encode (Proust project) will be hanging. Stop by to see work by all participating artists while enjoying live music and refreshments. Print copies of the map will be available to plan your Saturday's studio stroll or download yours here Open Studios Map 2015.

Preview party | Thursday June 4th at 6-9pm | Noyes Street Cultural Center Open Studios Evanston | Saturday June 6th at 12-5pm | my studio will be open at 1606 Main Street + many locations around Evanston

Encode | proust project revisited

An exhibit of all artists participating in this year's Open Studios Evanston gave me the opportunity to explore the first of the Proust project concepts at larger scale. At 24"x36", Encode was originally developed as a visual concept for the Proustian concept "mind as flourishing garden." Aesthetics of the built world (line, repetition, symmetry) inform a graphic living wall which thrives and flourishes with information, structural and functional elements. A grayscale glass palette is punctuated by vibrant color to echo the role of nature as an alerter within the urbanscape. Encode can be seen in the Made in Evanston show opening at the Noyes Street Cultural Center on Thursday June 4th at 6-9pm with the show continuing through July 5th.

Encode | WIP | 24" x 36"

Encode | 24" x 36" | glass+grout | c Heather Hancock 2015

Encode | 24" x 36" | glass+grout | c Heather Hancock 2015

Live vibrantly | glass in grayscale

Over the past month, I have selected some series from my portfolio to explore in grayscale at a larger size. I am developing a range of linear+geometric and curving+organic pieces as part of my "art to be lived with" offerings. Impervious to light and water, glass is uniquely suited for kitchens, bathrooms and light-filled living spaces. live vibrantly | Scan | glass+grout c Heather Hancock 2015

I often recommend selecting a neutral or grayscale palette for permanent residential installations. Shimmering glass in a neutral palette offers timeless visual interest while avoiding ever-changing color trends. Or neutrals with a pop of color can bring in a color element without overpowering the clarity of a neutral palette. One of my favorite color accents is grayscale with green which makes a direct connection between the natural world and built world.

Float | glass+grout c Heather Hancock 2015


I love this connection between the raw beauty of buildings and architectural surfaces and the growing, blooming force of nature. Everything I make in glass is a sort of conceptual living wall. I wanted to photograph the pieces at the intersection between the built world of functional surfaces and technology and the often overlooked flourishing natural world. First concept image is of the graphic piece Scan which offers abstracted letter form as part encoded information, part writing on the wall, part thriving vines.

Impel | glass+grout c Heather Hancock 2015

Grow | glass+grout c Heather Hancock 2015