For Nick Heaney, verbal communication doesn’t come naturally. With dyslexia, words don’t always come so easily. For the stumbling block that it is, dyslexia has actually been a building block for Heaney, too, cultivating in him the deft ability to communicate visually.
“Visual language and visual communication always came naturally to me,” says Heaney. “I’ve always been drawing and sketching.” As a student at Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Heaney discovered graphic design. “From there, I really loved the field,” he says, “taking words and making them into something beautiful, making them into artwork—taking something that’s challenging to me and making it more creative and more approachable.”
Heaney, 24, has gone on to study graphic design at Cape Cod Community College and UMass Dartmouth, but his artistic pursuits are not resigned to just one medium. A self-described experimental artist, Heaney has taken to fine art to explore a more emotional means of expression. His representational, acrylic paintings—typically measuring 11” by 14” or 12” by 12”—are nuanced with a cornucopia of rich textures that fittingly reflect the visual world around him. “When you’re driving around Cape Cod, especially on a sunny day, you see a beautiful shimmer on the ocean in the ripples and how it reflects, so I really want to capture that,” Heaney explains. “I’ll put layers of glitter down and metallic paint mixed in, and then I’ll put layers of glass bead medium on top of that, which allows the shimmer to shine through.”
He’s even incorporated actual sand and rocks into his seascape pieces—the tangibility of his work is poised to conjure up a yearning for a summer beach day. To Heaney, “It’s creating something expressionistic, but you can look at it and maybe get a flash of an image, which is inspiring.”
In addition to being a featured artist at the Steve Lyons Working Studio & Gallery in Chatham, Heaney serves as their curator and artist assistant. He’s also involved in their yearly young artists exhibitions, working with fellow emerging artists to help get them featured in these shows. Recently Heaney has taken his curating talents to his church, St. David’s Episcopal in South Yarmouth, organizing a multi-media exhibit of parishioners’ artwork inspired by the Stations of the Cross. It’s yet another way Heaney is utilizing art to break down language barriers—to help make powerful connections through the visual art of self-expression. –
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