Erin Sheehy

Artist in Residence, 2017

A portrait of a person against a light background.

Artist Statement

My writing, performance and visual work is informed by what I call “vermin art.” Taking society’s crumbs and using them to make something mischievous, fringe, and seemingly insignificant, vermin art ultimately undermines the dominant structures we take for granted.

In my critical essays I often address themes of public space, the place of sleaze and spectacle and perceptions of disorder in the city, and the contributions of marginal figures — radicals, outsiders, all-but-forgotten artists — to society.

My other work is devoted to creating alternative visions of the world that are rooted in humor and surprise. Recently I’ve been incorporating found dialogue and historical texts into scripts for television and performance. I also collaborate with photographers on multidisciplinary projects, and I currently work with the art collective Whoop Dee Doo, which uses accessible materials to create large-scale dreamlike installations and live variety shows for kids.

While at Headlands

My published output is mainly composed of critical essays, but analysis has never been my primary interest; instead, I’m drawn to sensory details, forgotten histories, good talkers, and the stranger terrains of the mind. I plan to use my time at Headlands to experiment with writing that is decoupled from overt analysis, is not tethered to the traditional essay form, and unfolds without the pressure of a publication deadline.

I grew up in the Bay Area, and I find that here I have greater access to the synesthetic processing and imaginative landscapes of childhood. While at Headlands I’ll be working on a collection of short pieces about California. They’ll be rooted in the biography of my late grandmother, who was a rosarian from El Cerrito, and the creative potential of the garden.

Online Texts

Straight to Helln+1, Spring 2016.

See Something Say SomethingPaper Monument.