Heidi Howard




Relative Fields in a Garden, 2019
Liz Phillips and Heidi Howard

Queens Museum
October 2018-February 2020

Materials: Acrylic paint, ceramic, bamboo, birch veneer, mirror film, metal chairs, Serge analog synthesizer, sound transducers, light sensors and multichannel looping audio players.

In their first artistic collaboration, mother Liz Phillips and daughter Heidi Howard present a multimedia mural and sound work. Howard, a painter, depicts Phillips, a sound artist, in her Sunnyside, Queens garden with fantastical flora that bridge representation and abstraction and transition through the seasons: spring on the left to winter on the right. In spring is Howard’s self-portrait, gazing into an ornate mirror. In fall, Howard painted a yellow floral scarf owned by her late grandmother Geraldine Phillips.

As part of her long-time work in interactive sound installation, Phillips has created sound fields using wave transmissions. Here, sculptural elements including ceramics made by Howard, bamboo, and birch veneer have become speakers through contact with a transducer, which converts electrical signals into tactile sound. They play Phillips’ continuously modulating composition--some of which was recorded in her garden--of seasonal wildlife, water, leaves, and city noises. With the use of sensors, these sounds respond to the passage of sunlight across the wall. Both the mural and the audio become increasingly abstracted in the winter section, where shard-like strips of mirror film are paired with distorted sounds of ice melting and people sorting cans and bottles. Visitors are invited to sit in three garden chairs previously owned by Geraldine. Also functioning as speakers, they vibrate with river sounds, in homage to her lifelong affinity for water.