Northern Brooklyn

Heidi Lau chosen as Green-Wood Cemetery’s first-ever artist-in-residence

October 5, 2020 Editorial Staff

The Green-Wood Cemetery has chosen ceramic artist Heidi Lau as Green-Wood’s first-ever artist-in-residence. Lau was chosen from among 964 candidates who applied for the nine-month residency, which begins in January 2021.

Over the course of her residency, Lau will create a new body of work inspired by Green-Wood’s landscape, monuments, history and local community. Lau will work in a private studio space in the Cemetery’s landmarked Fort Hamilton Gatehouse.

Lau will receive a $7,500 honorarium, as well as full access to the Cemetery’s staff including the Green-Wood historian and directors of horticulture, restoration, and programming. She will also be able to work with the Cemetery’s archival records that date back to 1838 and will have access to Green-Wood’s historical collections of over 10,000 objects, including photographs, artworks, books, and more.

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This is Green-Wood Cemetery’s Fort Hamilton Parkway Gatehouse, which is landmarked. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan
Lau will work in a studio space in the Cemetery’s landmarked Fort Hamilton Gatehouse. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

“I am very excited about developing a project at Green-Wood because for the past few years, my work has been deeply engaged with mourning rituals, burial monuments, and belief systems regarding the afterlife,” Lau said. “I would like to conduct extensive research on the symbolism and history behind the monuments and burial architecture on the grounds and incorporate them into my sculptural works.”

Lau, who grew up in Macau (on China’s southern coast), currently lives in Chinatown, Manhattan and works in Ridgewood, Queens. Her ceramic work is often modeled after tokens of remembrance, including ritual objects, funerary monuments, and fossilized creatures.

Taoist mythology, folk superstitions, and Macau’s colonial history provide essential source material for her exploration of displacement and nostalgia as the condition of contemporary existence.

President of Green-Wood Richard J. Moylan. Photo: Chet Berger

Lau’s work has been exhibited in local and international institutions including the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; the Museum of Chinese in America, New York; the Macau Museum of Art; and others.

In 2019, Lau represented Macau at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy. Her practice has been supported by the Emerging Artist Fellowship at Socrates Sculpture Park, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Process Space, the Martin Wong Foundation Scholarship, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptor Grant, among other awards and residencies.

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“Heidi Lau is a talented young artist whose spirituality, insight, and creativity inspire the creation of extraordinary works of art,” said Richard J. Moylan, Green-Wood’s president. “Green-Wood is extremely fortunate that she has agreed to serve as our inaugural artist-in-residence.”

Harry Weil, director of public programs and special projects at Green-Wood, will oversee the residency program. An art historian by training, Weil has been curating site-specific art installations and performances for the past four years.

The panel of jurors who selected Lau is composed of Jenny Gerow, curator of contemporary art at BRIC; Gabriel de Guzman, curator and director of exhibitions at Smack Mellon; Carmen Hermo, associate curator at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum; Cathleen Lewis, artist, cultural producer and arts management leader; and Danny Simmons, artist, poet and author.


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