Heather Bouteneff is an Oklahoman artist who utilizes a joyful color palette to communicate her art and heart. Themes found throughout her work include local and personal history as well as cozy and nostalgic characters. Growing up hovering between country and city mouse, she was inspired by the genuine and innocent beauty of wildflowers, hay bales, and tadpoles just as much as optimistic possibilities in stacks of library books, crayons in an old cigar box, and toys. After an academic hiatus, Heather’s determined personality prompted her to return to college Heather is currently completing her degree from Rogers State University and expecting to graduate in Spring 2024 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
Her painting “Ode #1” won Honorable Mention at the 2023 juried Student Art Show in the Gary Mohler Gallery in Claremore, Oklahoma. In 2023 she interned for Jean Marie Creations designing gift bags for nationwide, mass-market clients. Her personal illustration clients include the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. She currently lives in Claremore, Oklahoma in a blue house under a big sky with her husband, two daughters, and an even split of dogs and cats.
In Plato’s Phaedrus, he allegorizes the human soul to be as a chariot pulled by two winged horses, one an immaculate immortal and the other mortal, dull and lacking. When I create, I often think of these two extremes working together. The immaculate I often attempt to include a nod to traditional European equine artists such as George Stubbs through a pose or in a sheen of coat. I find importance in referencing the dismissed craft of feminist art and a pull toward the unconventional beauty found in the worn and broken as I incorporate my fondness for this “dark horse” in my art. By utilizing forgotten and found textiles I feel like I am honoring my past as well as my present, bringing with me a nod to the ones I’ve lost that found their beauty or peace in crafted fabric scraps or labor in red dirt under a big Oklahoma sky. ‘I see you, I remember you, I’m bringing you with me on this journey’. Because that’s what creating art feels like to me, flying.
In my digital work I find this equally applicable, whether, for the gift industry or children’s books, both industries are commonly snubbed in comparison to fine art, viewed as disposable and quaint as a balloon. But there is beauty here too, and a unique opportunity to connect with someone and see a glimpse of them without walls. What makes them smile or laugh, what is their sense of humor, or what softens their heart enough to say “cute”. What a rare and humbling endeavor to attempt to reach people in such a moment of vulnerability and happiness. As Pooh wisely said, “Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon”.